Each of them had a chance to be a hero tonight. Each, in his first World Series game, wanted desperately to make the play that would make the San Diego Padres winners against the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series.
Each of them failed. The Padres lost, 3-2. And, when it was over, all four of them agreed that they had been overanxious.
In the sixth inning, with men on first and second and no one out, Bobby Brown came up trying to bunt. Jack Morris struck him out. "I didn't bunt, I didn't move the man over and I struck out on a bad pitch," Brown said. "I was too excited up there."
Carmelo Martinez followed. He also struck out. "None of the pitches was even close," he said. "I overswung, I just should have tried to hit the ball up the middle."
Garry Templeton was next, the two runners still on first and second. Same result: a Morris strikeout. "We were all a little overanxious," Templeton said. "It was our first Series game and we wanted to get it done. We just didn't."
In the seventh, the last of the forlorn four, Kurt Bevacqua, had his moment. He lined a Morris mistake -- a high fast ball -- into the right field corner. But as he rounded second, heading for a leadoff triple, Bevacqua stumbled. That stumble was the reason the Tigers, with two perfect relay throws, were able to get Bevacqua at third as he flew headlong into the bag.
"I don't know why I stumbled," Bevacqua said with a shrug. "I just did."
But Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson may have pointed out the reason for Bevacqua's problem two hours before the game even started.
"That's adobe clay," he said, pointing to the infield dirt. "It comes up in your cleats. It's not a good surface. But, it's the same problem for both teams."
Tonight, it was more of a problem for the Padres.
The condition of the field had nothing to do with what had happened in the sixth, though. That was just a matter of a good pitcher in trouble reaching back when he had to.
"The first few innings he wasn't the Jack Morris I know," San Diego Manager Dick Williams said. "He was throwing a lot of changeups and we were hitting him pretty good. But in that sixth, he really showed me a lot."
What he showed Brown, Martinez and Templeton was a fast ball that rode up on them, followed by a split-fingered fast ball that broke down. The combination was devastating.
Brown, playing center field in place of the injured Kevin McReynolds (broken wrist), came up with Graig Nettles on second base and Terry Kennedy on first. His job was to bunt them over, get the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
"On the first pitch I was bunting all the way and he threw a ball," Brown said. "That's when Ozzie Virgil came down and told me if I had a good pitch, I could swing away because they were charging so hard."
After receiving his whispered instructions from third base coach Virgil, Brown got a fast ball up from Morris. "I thought it was a good pitch to hit," he said. "But I didn't hit it."
He didn't hit the next two pitches either, a split-fingered fast ball and another rising fast ball.
Martinez had the next shot. He is a rookie, an acquisition from the Cubs during the offseason. "I knew this was my big chance," he said. "It's the World Series, you know what I mean. I knew he would pitch me inside and he did. But he just had me swinging at bad balls."
Still there was Templeton, a clutch hitter throughout the playoffs. "You have to remind yourself not to swing at bad balls in that situation," Templeton said. "I reminded myself, but it didn't do any good."
Another split-fingered fast ball did Templeton in. "His is different than (Bruce) Sutter's," Templeton said. "Sutter's has a fast ball spin and goes down. His goes down, too, but it has more of a knuckleball spin. It's harder to follow."
Opportunities lost? "Yeah, you can say that," Templeton said. "It's not surprising we were a little overexcited. It's been an emotional few days. Now, I hope, we're into the Series and we'll play better."
He smiled. "We have been known to come from behind, you know."