Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Los Angeles Dodgers knew they would play with one extra man in Tuesday night's opener of the diamond jubilee World Series. After all, they would be allowed to use a designated hitter.
What they did not know was how much an 11th man would contribute to their quest to beat the New York Yankees.
That man, unquestionably present in spirit, was former Coach Jim (Junior) Gilliam, who died on the eve of this Series.
Wearing black patches on their arms, the Dodgers battered the world champion Yankees, 11-5, last night.
The Dodgers' emotional captain, Dave Lopes, hit two home runs and drove in five runs, then dedicated his performance to his dead friend.
"I have no doubt that we are going to win" said Lopes, "Junior's up there watching us now and they're got to beat 50 guys, not 25, because every one of us has Gilliam's spirit in him. . . .
The three players on this team closest to Gilliam were Lopes, Dusty Baker and Lee Lacy.
"If you look out there real closely, you'll see Jim Gilliam in all the right holes."
Last night, in addition to Lopes' homers, Baker hit a base-empty homer and two hit-and-run singles that set up runs, while Lacy singled home a run.
"I can't comment on this business of players taking inspiration from a friend's death. I've never experienced it," said New York's Reggie Jackson, who continued his phenomenal Series hitting with two singles and a 450-foot homer.
"But you better believe it's real. It's real in their minds and that's all that counts. Baseball, at this level, is mostly mental. Concentration and confidence and determination may be intangible, but they aren't mystical."
"There's nothing superstitious about saying that Gilliam is helping them," said Yankee Jim Spencer. "It's easier to play when you're not thinking about me-me-me, but are creating a testimonial-type thing for someone else."
The Dodgers are not about to let go of the "wake Series" motif. Manager Tommy Lasorda regularly exhorts them in the dugout with unashamed win-one-for-the-Gipper pep talks.
Besides, Gilliam's old teammate, Roy Campanella, threw out the first all from his wheel chair. The moments of silence and eulogies are certain to continue. The sixth Series game is next Tuesday, which would have been Gilliam's 50th birthday.
The Lopes-Baker wrecking crew was aided by New York starting pitcher Ed Figueroa, who continued his perfect record of being blasted from the mound in every postseason start of his major league career.
When Figueroa finished the regular season with eight wins in a row and a 2.13 earned-run average in his 18 starts under new manager Bob Lemon, he seemed to have cured his playoff blues. "Lem has me pitching every fourth day instead of every seventh or eighth day like Billy Martin," said Figueroa. "That helps my control."
So, for the second straight time this postseason, Figueroa showed up without his control. "Everything was high," he said. "The curve ball I hung to Lopes was a pitch any batter could have hit."
Last year Martin ignored Figueroa until the angry Puerto Rican threatened to jump the team after the fifth game and fly home.
The Yanks couldn't have been worse off had "DNP" (did not play) been written next to Figueroa's name again last night. He lasted only five outs, raising his October ERA to 7.11 a number that is only lucky in Las Vegas.
Actually, had Lou Piniella not saved two runs with a catch against the right field fence in the first, Figueroa might Gilliam hitting tip for helping with both his homers - the fly over the 370-foot sign in the second with one on and the smoking liner over the 385-foot mark in the fourth with two on off Ken Clay.
One of Gilliam's adages was that a batter seldom should swing at the first pitch, or even the first strike, except in certain emotional situations. Gilliam felt that after a homer, a defensive error or a double play, when a pitcher was either overly angry or overly confident, the batter was most likely to see a fast ball down the middle.
Lopes' homers, both on the first strike he saw, came after a double play and an infield error.
Lemon tried to treat this laughter, with a quick 7-0 L.A. lead giving Dodger starter and winner Tommy John a huge cushion, as though it were no problem at all.
"Every time I look up a ball was falling in or landing in the seats," Lemon said of L.A.'s 15 hits. "I didn't know if I had nine men playing out there or five.
"We'll show up tomorrow. They didn't show us that much. I'm not gonna panic and use (Ron) Guidry tomorrow. He'll rest until Friday (game three). I wouldn't want to strap it on him again this quick. The huge pressures have been on him damn near all year. He's too big an investment to mess up.
"I think Catfish Hunter (who will face Burt Hootten in the 8:30 p.m. EDT second game) has a few credentials as a pitcher," said Lemon. "I'm not worried about givin' the ball to Cat."
Perhaps the most memorable single blow of this game was Jackson's enormous leadoff homer in the seventh, which crashed off the back wall of the Yankee bullpen in right. It was Jackson's sixth Series homer in four consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig's record of five, set in 1928.