When this long game and short series was over tonight, the New York Yankees were crowding around the mound and Rich Gossage in another October celebration.
Beyond the right field wall, the three yellow and gold banners were still on a calm night by the Bay. These were remnants of the glory years of the Oakland A's, the world championship years of 1972-1974.
There was no new banner added this year.
Willie Randolph hit a home run in the sixth inning and Graig Nettles hit a two-out, three-run double in the ninth as the Yankees defeated the A's, 4-0, to sweep this championship series and win their 33rd American League pennant.
Dave Righetti allowed only four hits in six innings and Ron Davis and Gossage came in to supply the Yankees' standard finish-'em-off formula to complete the three-game sweep before 47,302 at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Yankees will attempt to win their 21st World Series against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Montreal Expos when the Series starts Tuesday in New York.
Nettles, the third baseman with the Gold Glove, hit .500 (six for 12) and drove in nine runs -- three in each game -- to win the most valuable player award for the AL championship series.
"I knew I had six RBI after two games," said Nettles, who was one for 17 in the five-game East Division series against Milwaukee. "I guess I realized I had nine pretty quick. I'm good at math, you know."
Bob Lemon, the Yankee manager, looked satisfied afterward. With his hands placed on the belt that supports his ample waist, Lemon said, "Maybe they'll start calling this 'Bobby Ball' now."
Indeed, the Yankees won this October game without Reggie Jackson, whose pulled left calf muscle was too tender for him to play. The fact is, the Yankees won this series without a hit from Jackson (zero for four).
The Yankees outscored Oakland, 21-4, in the series, and New York pitchers allowed only 22 hits. "I'm disappointed because we didn't play the way we had during the year," Oakland Manager Billy Martin said. "That's the frustrating part. Think of it: we were ahead only once in the three games and that was for only a half inning."
Just being in the series was an accomplishment for the A's. Two years ago, Oakland lost 108 games as a pitiful season attendance of 306,000 came into the place they called Charlie Finley's Oakland Mausoleum. Last year, in Martin's first season by the bay, the A's finished second to Kansas City. In this series they were attempting to win their first league title since 1974, the beginning of the end of the glory years.
"Nobody expected us to be here," Martin said. "They beat us fair and square. We have no alibis."
The A's started Matt Keough, whose right arm was sore enough to force him to miss his last two starts. He pitched 8 1/3 innings tonight, giving up one earned run and stranding 12 men. For someone who hadn't pitched in 11 days, it was a valiant effort.
Even though there was no score through the fifth inning, the A's were down two, anyway. Center fielder Dwayne Murphy left the game in the first inning after tearing muscles in his rib cage while batting.
Left fielder Rickey Henderson left the game after the fifth after injuring his tender left wrist fouling off a pitch. So as the A's tried to alter a two-games-to-none disadvantage, they played most of the final game without their No. 1 and No. 2 hitters, without the two players who led AL outfielders in putouts.
The game was already two and a half hours long when Randolph hit a 1-0 pitch from Keough about 10 seats deep into the left field bleachers.
"I hit it a long ways," said Randolph, who hadn't hit much at all in the playoffs (.214) prior to this two-for-four game. He was batting ninth tonight.
"We jumped out to a two-game lead against Milwaukee, too. But we got lax. We wanted to put them away without messing around tonight," said Randolph, who had last homered on April 28.
When the Yankees take a lead into the seventh inning, they don't mess around. New York won 53 of 56 games this year in games in which it had a lead going into the seventh.
"My job was just to go six innings. Then it's Davis and Gossage," said Righetti, whose record (8-4, 2.05 earned run average) has made him a favorite to become the first Yankee since Thurman Munson (1970) to win the rookie of the year award.
The A's got only five hits tonight. They hit .222 in the series. So when Gossage induced Wayne Gross to pop to Randolph at second base for the final out, there was only one question.
What about Reggie?
"I can't run at all," said No. 44. "But if this had been the fifth game of the series, I would have played."
And the Series?
"I expect to be ready Tuesday night," said Reggie Jackson.