Five years after he thought he had lost his chance to pitch in the World Series, Ed Whitson will finally get his shot Wednesday night.

Whitson was playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 as they battled for the National League pennant. Then, midway through the season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the move that made Bill Madlock a Pirate. The Pirates went on to win the World Series that year and Whitson languished in San Francisco and Cleveland before landing in San Diego in 1983.

"In 1982 I was in Cleveland getting no work in the bullpen because Dan Spillner had gotten off to such a great start," Whitson said today. "Rick Sutcliffe and I were out there together getting no work."

Whitson escaped Cleveland the following season. When he got here, General Manager Jack McKeon told him he wanted him to be a starter. He was hurt much of 1983, but won 14 games this year and Game 3 of the National League championship series against the Chicago Cubs.

Whitson attributes much of his success to a freak accident in August, 1983 when he cut his index finger opening a bottle of Pepsi. "I had to pitch that night and the only thing I could throw was the fast ball," he said. "So I decided to try the palm ball I'd been fooling around with. I went 7 2/3 that night, beat the Phillies, 4-2, and I've been throwing it ever since." When Pepsi heard the story, it sent Whitson a case of soda with the warning, "Be careful opening these."

John McNamara's resignation today may be the first step toward becoming manager of the Boston Red Sox. McNamara is reportedly scheduled to meet with Red Sox President Haywood Sullivan, a longtime friend.

If he takes the Boston job, Earl Weaver may end up talking to George Steinbrenner about the Yankees job, assuming Yogi Berra is fired, something many consider a foregone conclusion.

As if the Tigers don't have enough talent in their dugout already, Al Kaline and Carl Yastrzemski decided to use it for pregame kibitzing today. Both are here as members of the media. Kaline does television work for the Tigers during the season and Yastrzemski is working here for a Boston station, wearing a wireless mike everywhere he goes.

Of San Diego Manager Dick Williams, who managed the Miracle Red Sox of '67, Yastrzemski said: "I was talking to (Steve) Garvey in the parking lot and he says Williams has mellowed a lot. That's a change.

"When Williams was a player, he'd go out have a few beers and joke around all the time. When he became a manager, I never saw him smile. He was very rough on our ballclub. Today, I stood around joking with him for 15 minutes and I couldn't believe it was Dick Williams I was talking to.

"But a successful manager is one who adjusts. I guess he's done that. Look at his record."

Tailgating has become so popular here before baseball games that the parking lot was jammed three hours before game time . . . Think baseball players don't get excited about the World Series? Ruppert Jones of the Tigers ran around during batting practice today taking pictures. "Got to get all my idols," he said.