The names were heavenly and the numbers were angelic today.
As the clubhouse cameras clicked, the bubbles of October's champagne formed on the Singing Cowboy's balding forehead.
"This is why I wore my champagne-proof suit," said Gene Autry, the 75-year-old owner of the California Angels, in a locker room soaked with satisfaction.
Satisfaction arrived in the form of the Angels' 6-4 victory over the Texas Rangers, as California claimed the title of the American League's West Division before 33,405 at Anaheim Stadium.
Even though the second-place Kansas City Royals defeated Oakland, 5-4, earlier, the Angels had a two-game lead over the Royals with one game to play. Thus, mathematics cannot play the thief. The American League championship series opens here Tuesday with the Angels playing either Milwaukee or Baltimore.
"This is bigger than '79," said outfielder Don Baylor, the league's most valuable player that year, when the Angels last won the title. "My memory of that year is John Lowenstein hitting a 10th-inning homer in the playoff opener and us losing the series to Baltimore. I want a fonder memory now."
Today, Gene Mauch finally had something fond to ponder. He had managed 22 seasons without winning a title -- a major league record -- before he put a 1982 first-place halo into his history today.
"It's pretty obvious how I feel," said Mauch, 56, showing a touch of malice toward a press corps that has constantly reminded him of 1964, when his Phillies lost a large lead down the stretch. But, he said, "My own emotions are seventh or eighth on my list right now."
The Angels trailed, 4-3, until Fred Lynn hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth off Texas knuckleballer Charlie Hough (16-13). It gave California a 5-4 lead. Tim Foli's infield single scored the final run for pennant's sake in the eighth.
Lynn's 21st homer, which fittingly sailed over a sign in the right field pavilion that read "Yes We Can," also helped the Angels overcome three Texas home runs in the first four innings.
Dave Goltz (8-5) and Luis Sanchez (fifth save) pitched 7 1/3 innings in relief of bombarded starter Ken Forsch. A loss would have dropped the Angels' lead to one game over the Royals with one left.
"We played together all year," said Rod Carew, who drove in the game's first run with a first-inning single. "We didn't fight, either."
The Angels, of course, are a team of noble names. Naturally, the man popping corks loudest was Reggie Jackson, who hit his 38th home run, a 475-foot blast that enhanced the Angels' first-inning edge to 2-0.
It is, remember, October.
Why, Jackson was asked, does his home run total always rise when the leaves fall?
"In October, I'm just a charm, I guess," he said.
Baylor has a different view of Jackson, after watching No. 44's first year in Anaheim: "Reggie has meant a lot to this team. He's been put in the spotlight so many times it has become a part of him."
Left fielder Brian Downing said, "In our team meetings this year, Reggie talked like a man who has been there before. He would say, 'I've been there and this is how we combated the problem.' He is a vociferous leader."
The Rangers scored three runs in the second to take a 3-2 lead, finishing Forsch. The Rangers' runs came on homers by Larry Parrish (No. 17) and Jim Sundberg (No. 10) and Mike Richardt's run-scoring single.
California's Bobby Grich then hit his 19th homer, to left, tying the game, 3-3, in the second inning. In the third, Texas rookie Pete O'Brian homered (No. 3) off Goltz and the lead again belonged to Texas, 4-3.
Then came the public address announcement that the Royals had won.
"Reggie was beside himself when they announced it," said Mauch. "He kept telling the guys to get it going. He kept saying, 'Let's do it. Let's do it.' "
In the bottom of the fifth, Lynn did it.
Jackson is about to enter his record 10th league championship series. He said, "Gene Mauch has been given a bad rap. A bad rap is something I know about. Now, I want to take him further. I want to make all this very special for him."