Willie Wilson's locker was empty, as empty as he must have been feeling.
He had come to bat in the top of the ninth inning with bases loaded, and a chance to redeem himself from a four for 29 World Series. As Wilson stepped to the plate, the Philadelphia police emerged from under the stands with police dogs in tow. It was an ominous sign for a man who had displayed K-nine tendencies throughout his first World Series.
With the count 1-2, Wilson struck out for the 12th time in six games, breaking a World Series record (11 strikeouts in seven games) that no one wanted to break.
It was enough to make a man howl at the moon.
"I haven't struck out 12 times in six games in I don't know how long. It wasn't the pitching. . . Things just didn't go our way. They just didn't go my way. If you want to say I lost it, you can."
Wilson, a stand-up guy, stood up. "I'm a lousy loser, people," he said. And then he left.
There were many in the Royal clubhouse prepared to take the blame: Hal McRae, who bounced out to second with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and Dan Quisenberry, who pitched in every game but this one, and was unable to hold leads in two of them.
"I had a chance to beat them two games in a row," McRae said, shrugging sadly. "I did the best job I could do."
He was batting .450 coming into this game.
"I was thinking home run until the count got to 3-2. At 3-2, I just wanted to make contact. It could have been a ball. But I wasn't going to get called out with bases loaded in the World Series."
But did he feel the best team won? "You can't really express your true feelings on that because it just doesn't feel right. So I'll just say, no comment."
A half-eaten piece of cold, greasy fried chicken lay at Quisenberry's feet. Somehow it seemed to summarize how he felt: full but still hungry. "We lost largely because of me," he said. "I've been holding leads all year, and I didn't hold two in a six-game series. I pitched as hard as I could. When it's not good enough, I'm not the type of guy to tear out my guts."
The eighth and ninth innings were gut-wrenching ones for the Royals, who left the bases loaded both times. George Brett, who had an infield single to load the bases in the eighth, was asked how those lost opportunities made him feel. [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] handed themselves the first World Series win. "It made me think of a baseball fever catch-it commercial," said Quisenberry.
"It made me think, 'why us? why now?'" said Brett. "'Why doesn't it happen in April? Why on the 21st of October with bases loaded in the World Series?'"
But because it did happen, the Royals have the following to look forward to: a parade in Kansas City for fans who, Brett says, "thought just beating the Yankees was winning the World Series."
And they can look forward to telling their grandchildren about the year the Phillies finally won the World Series, and the Royals beat the Yanks. But, Brett, said, "The play-offs are easy to forget. The World Series is something you cherish. When I get old and gray I'll tell my grandchildren I played in the World Series, not that I played in a league championship.
"And when they ask who won, I'll say, 'The first year, we didn't. But the second year we did."