Crazy George gets $600 a game to beat his drum here and parade atop the dugouts, a la Baltimore's debonair Wild Bill Hagy. Once a shop teacher in a local high school, Crazy, as his friends call him, wears Bermuda shorts, sweat socks and a smile suggesting there's a light on upstairs but nobody's home.
First the sun shined here. Then it got dark. Other than that, Crazy George is the only thing that happened. The first inning of the A's-Yankee league championship series game took half an hour to complete. By the time anybody scored, and long before the Yankees won their way into the World Series, the children had grown up and moved out on their own. In the fourth inning, still scoreless, Crazy George beat his bald head with his drumsticks, thrilling everyone.
They responded with the asynchronized cheer that began with an entire section of fans leaping from the seats and throwing their arms overhead. Section by section, the cheer moved around the stadium.
As the customers rose and flapped and shouted, a pair of Santa Clauses walked about, making a list and checking it twice. This is Oakland style baseball, all enthusiasm, fresh and unspoiled by successes that demand repetition. The first time around is unforgettable.
So when Kelvin Moore, one of the forgettable A's Billy Martin has built into a playoff team, sent a single to left field, Crazy George had the stadium patrons working at full voice to get something going. When a rally seems immiment here, they play the theme from "Jaws."
Well, before two sections had a chance to stand and scream with Crazy George, Dave McKay had grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Not so scary, these A's.
Look at the lineup they took into the sixth inning: Mike Heath, Rick Bosetti, Cliff Johnson, Tony Armas, Mickey Klutts, Moore, McKay, Jeff Newman and Rob Picciolo.
You've heard of Murderers' Row, the famous Yankee bombers of yore who committed metaphorical mayhem with their bats.
These A's couldn't be Traffic Offenders' Row, they are so harmless.
The most damage the A's did at bat tonight was to themselves.
Both Rickey Henderson and Dwayne Murphy had to leave the game after hurting themselves at bat.
They hit foul balls.
Murphy couldn't finish his at bat in the first inning, leaving with torn muscles in his rib cage after a big swing on a foul.
In the third, with the count 3 and 2, Henderson took a rip at Dave Righetti's fast ball and fouled it back.
Henderson also ripped his left wrist.
Billy, whose last name you know or else you stumbled into the wrong show, came out to look at Henderson's wrist.
Naturally everybody suspected Billy of something.
When Willie Sutton looked at a bank, the cops called in reinforcements.
When Billy wants to look at an "injured" wrist, it is only habit to think he is stalling, trying to destroy the rhythm of the opposing pitcher, making him wait so long he forgets these are the A's.
This suspicion gained credence when Henderson, a small smile flickering across his lips, sneaked a look to see if Righetti were throwing warm-up pitches while Dr. Billy ministered to the poor wrist.
Actually, the trainer wrapped tape around it. After about three minutes, Henderson bunted foul on Righetti's next pitch, thus going down as a strikeout. And when Billy sent a catcher out to play left in Henderson's place, everyone wrote a note of apology to Billy for ever thinking such a thing.
Two years ago, these A's lost 108 games.
Then Charlie Finley hired Billy.
This year the A's were one step from the World Series.
As nicely as Billy conjured this team from nothing, he yet cannot conjure base hits from a lineup of mystery guests. Against Righetti, the A's were exposed as an inoffensive bunch, for on this night the Yankees' rookie left-hander was not a good pitcher.
Still, through six innings, the A's managed only four hits and didn't get anybody past second. Righetti used 112 pitches those innings, 43 of them balls in a struggle that wore him out and caused the Yankee manager -- his name is Bob Lemon, he's in the Hall of Fame, and nobody even knows he's here, what with the owner, King George III, hovering in the shadows never out of camera range -- yes, Righetti caused Lemon to bring in a relief pitcher, Ron Davis.
Next to Goose Gossage, who is wrath on earth, Davis is as fierce a relief pitcher as anyone has.
It was over right there. It was over even before the A's were exposed in another way. When Murphy left the game with his back spasms, Billy sent Bosetti to center field. In the eighth inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, the count 3 and 2, the Yankees' Graig Nettles sent a fly ball deep to right center.
For Murphy, Nettles' fly ball is a piece of cake, easily run down.
For Bosetti, it was uncatchable as this mystery guest turned the wrong way, stumbled and caught the ball on about the fifth bounce.
Three runs scored, making it 4-0.
The Yankees then brought in Gossage to pitch the ninth inning, which really isn't fair. He never lets anything happen.