Manager Chuck Tanner hugged pitcher Kent Tekulve in the bedlam of of the Pittsburgh clubhouse tonight and said, "One more time Kento."
For the 101st time this season, Tekulve had brought his wiry frame in from the bullpen and this time he had assured the ultimate triumph for the Pirates, recording his third save of the World Series.
Eddie Murray, who toured the room to congratulate the winners, gave Tekulve a momentary flutter with his bases-loaded line drive to right in the eighth. Still, it seemed that Tekulve's most difficult moment came when he struggled to open a bottle of champagne. It made one wonder about his strength. There is no question of his pitching ability -- and Tekulve wondered why anyone had doubted the talent of the Pittsburgh staff.
"I don't think people realize until now what good pitching we have," Tekulve said. "We were the third or fourth best in the National League and we had a lot injuries.
"When we were down 3-1, we couldn't be overconfident, bet we knew we wouldn't quit or fold up. Neither one of these teams was going to quit."
While the players' wives danced in a nearby room, doubtless thinking of the presents to come, each of the Pirates celebrated the immediate thrill of a victory in his own way.
Shortstop Tim Foli, who has not struck out since Aug. 18, stood on a chair, beating his fists on a heating pipe and shouting in imitation thrill Tarzan.
Starting pitcher Jim Bibby shouted, "Way to go you Pittsburgh -- -- " and then sidled away, grinning sheepishly, when he attracted questioning glances.
Catcher Steve Nicosia angrily yelled, "I want to meet John Steadman, bring him over here." It was Steadman who said the Pirates were dead after they trailed, 3-1.
The Pirates knew they were still alive.
"They guys are still in a good mood," said Grant Jackson, a winning pitcher for the first time in three World Series dating to 1971, when he pitched for Baltimore in another losing seven-game duel with Pittsburgh. "They were talking confidently on the bench and playing backgammon in the room. It takes a lot to upset this club."
One man who rarely gets upset is Willie Stargell, the most valuable player in the Series after collecting a record seven extra-base hits, including the homer that was decisive to night.
"Once this year Willie slapped a Pepsi can and everyone turned andd looked in surprise," said Bill Robinson, whose single preceded Stargell's homer. '"I don't know wh he lets off steam, but he must have a way.
"It's so fitting the king of year he's had, that he should get the winning hit. I was very excited, sure, but we knew he could do it. He's done it all year, I'm happy just to have been able to play with the man. He should be the MVP of the regular season, the championship series and the World Series. He's a class guy. He never brags about anything."
With the hoy came explanations of a couple of incidents that angered the Baltimore fans. The first came when Phil Garner ran into Murray as Murray waited to catch his pop fly.
"It was purely by mistake," said Garner, who hit safely in all seven games. "I thought he was drifting into foul territory and I tried to go inside him. I was sorry about that. I play hard ball but I don't play dirty ball."
Moments after the game ended, Lee Lacy pauesed in offering congratulations to Tekulve and began slugging a spectator who had raced onto the field.
"I was attacked -- very briefly," Lacy said. "It didn't last long."
Of Pittsburgh's 10 hits, only Robinson's ground sinlge off McGregorr came from an opposite stance. There were seven hits by lefties against lefties and two by righties against righties. It made one wonder why Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver spent 40 minutes juggling a record five pitchers in the ninth inning.
Two of pitchers hit batters on consecutive pitches. Robinson was plunked in the finger by Dennis Martinez and said, "It will hurt tomorrow, but it doesn't hurt now."