He easily could have felt the pressure. Unbearable pressure. He walked to the plate knowing if he hit the ball on the ground, he could be the last hitter of the 1985 World Series. He knew he would be facing pure heat from Todd Worrell, the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen.
But Dane Iorg felt none of that. Somehow, thinking back on his 15 years as a professional baseball player, Iorg almost knew that this was his moment.
"All my life -- since Little League, Babe Ruth League, my whole professional career -- I dreamed about a moment like this," Iorg said. "I dreamed about coming up in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series with the bases loaded. The only difference was there was one out tonight instead of two.
"I just stepped in thinking I was very lucky to be here. It was a special moment."
One moment later, Iorg turned this game into something special for the Kansas City Royals. He fought off a Worrell fast ball on the hands and punched a broken-bat line drive into short right field.
Onix Concepcion and Jim Sundberg scored on the hit, the Royals were 2-1 winners, the Cardinals had blown a 3-1 lead in games and Iorg found himself thrust into the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol predicts for all of us.
"I'm not sure why but I was calm when I went up there," Iorg said, still standing on the field, still being tugged at by the media 45 minutes after the game had ended. "Thinking back now, maybe I shouldn't have been so calm. But I've been through it so many times before that I didn't feel any pressure. I thought, 'This is my time,' and just thought fast ball. I knew Worrell was going to throw a fast ball."
"Yeah, it was a fast ball," Worrell said calmly. "I thought I threw a pretty good pitch. It was in on him and I broke his bat. But he got the hit and they won."
The Cardinals led, 1-0, going into the bottom of the ninth. But an apparent missed call at first base on leadoff pinch-hitter Jorge Orta's ground ball, Steve Balboni's single, and a one-out passed ball by catcher Darrell Porter that led to an intentional walk of Hal McRae put Iorg in position for his magic moment.
The first pitch was a low fast ball. Ball one. The second was up, but in on the hands. "As soon as I hit it I knew I had a good stroke, and even though it broke the bat I thought it was a hit," Iorg said. "As soon as I touched first I turned around hoping to see Sunny (Sundberg) scoring. I was glad when I saw the safe sign. Then I got mobbed."
Beaten up is more like it. Non-roster relief pitcher Mike Jones, who is 6 feet 5 and weighs 225 pounds, accidentally slugged Iorg in the nose, bloodying him. But it didn't matter. "I'll take a punch for a win any time," Iorg said.
Iorg is not a hitter without credentials. He is a nine-year major leaguer with a career batting average of .280. In 1982, he was the Cardinals' designated hitter in the World Series and, in the minds of some, the MVP after he went nine for 17 at the plate.
Beyond that, Iorg, 35, is known as the older half of the Iorg brothers. Younger brother Garth plays third base for the Toronto Blue Jays, and when the Royals beat the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, Garth's wife told Dane that she would pull for him in the World Series, but not for the Royals.
"She was pretty unhappy," Dane Iorg said. "But Garth called me today and said she had changed her mind and was rooting for the Royals now."
There is now at least one more day to root, thanks to Iorg. And, on as gorgeous a night as one can imagine, Iorg turned himself from a trivia question into a hero. In the seventh inning, the scoreboard asked which current Royal who had once played for the Cardinals had played the most games in St. Louis.
The possibilities were Iorg, Lonnie Smith and Jamie Quirk. The answer was Iorg.
"Really, I was the answer?" Iorg asked, his light blue eyes dancing with joy. "Well, in a couple of years I might be a trivia question again."
Not likely. Because if the Royals do win Game 7 here Sunday, they will talk in this city for years to come about "Iorg's hit."