ST. LOUIS -- One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight tiny casual loving little steps is how many Tom Lawless took toward first base before he fired his bat in the air like a whirling baton and began the cockiest and most amazingly improbable Show Me home run trot in World Series history.

Next to Tom Lawless, Bucky Dent was Jimmie Foxx and Brian Doyle was Babe Ruth. Line them all up -- Sandy Amoros, Al Gionfriddo, Don Larsen, Howard Ehmke and Bernie Carbo -- the unknowns who made this Classic their moment, their mirror, their whole athletic life in a split second, and Moxie Lawless has them lapped and beaten badly.

All of them did amazing and unexpected deeds at perfect and vital moments. But none of them had done so little as Lawless, who spent every day of this year with the St. Louis Cardinals and batted .080 with no runs batted in. Actually, he wasn't even in a slump. The previous year, he had three RBI in an entire season of utility chores.

Even more wonderful, Lawless used his split second of immortality Wednesday night with a presence of mind and an audacity that never had occurred to a baseball player before. How does a 30-year-old veteran -- who has hit one home run in his entire major league career of 384 at-bats -- have the quick wit to play to the camera like Reggie Jackson and hot dog like Rickey Henderson rolled into one? Come on, folks, how do you discover style on the second home run of your life?

Lawless claims his mind went blank, that it wasn't what it seemed. Whitey Herzog knew better. "I'd put that trot right up there with Reggie," said The White Rat. "The way he stood there, I thought it must be in the upper deck. It went over the fence by about a foot. I asked him later and he said, 'I hit it as good as I can hit it.' I told him, 'Man, you better run when you hit it.' "

When stars show up their foes, it's bush. If Willie McGee had done what Lawless did -- the grandstand waltz, the bat flip, the bounding, high-stepping trip around the bases, the high-fives to the entire state of Missouri -- the Minnesota Twins would have spent the rest of this Series trying to dent his skull.

But when the 24th man has his glory day, when the guy who ought to be scared to death just to step on the field drives a three-run, tie-breaking stake in your heart in the fourth game of a Series that is now tied, you just shake your head and wonder whether destiny hasn't gotten a midtown transfer and jumped on the other guys' team bus.

If Jack Clark gets hurt, then Jose Oquendo (two career homers) hits the key home run in the seventh game of the playoffs to beat the 205-homer San Francisco Giants. If Terry Pendleton gets gimped out of the lineup, then Lawless replaces him and breaks up a 1-1 game off Frankie (Sweet Music) Viola and ignites a six-run fourth inning.

Is there an echo in here or did somebody say fourth inning? Isn't that the Twins' inning? Or is it now Every Man's Inning? Don't go to the hot chocolate line after three innings.

"Oquendo. Lawless. If we keep playing, I expect Ozzie {Smith} to hit one," said Herzog.

Lawless says the whole moment was a wonderful blur. "I don't know the good feeling of hitting the ball on the button," he said. "There were men on first and third, so there was no place for me to go. I can't race past Jose. It's either going to be a sacrifice fly or a home run. I took a few steps then said to myself, 'Holy Cow. The ball went out.' I went blank after that."

"Threw him the same pitch twice in a row -- high fastball for strike one, then the next one goes out of the park -- after striking him out with two men on with a curveball the first time up," said Herzog.

The Cardinals could not rejoice enough with Lawless. Ken Dayley, who got the save, gave up the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Lawless' only other homer in 1984. "He's been reminding me about it constantly for three years," said Dayley. "There's a stat sheet every day that lists each player's most recent home run. He drops it by my locker all the time. Says he's going to bring the ball in for me to sign."

"Great guy to have on a club. Hard working. Plays anywhere. Good glove. Never complains," said Herzog. "He's the best golfer on the club. He should be. He knows he's not going to play, so he plays golf every day. Whenever I'm chairman of a scramble tournament, he somehow ends up on my team. We always win."

"Gionfriddo goes back, back, back. One-handed catch at the bullpen. Oh, doctor." That's how Red Barber called the great grab against Joe DiMaggio. Back, back, back -- that's where the Minnesota Twins are now, thanks to Lawless. Backs to the wall, even though this Series is tied at two games each. The Twins have seen the true St. Louis Cardinals. Everything the Cardinals know how to do, they did this raw night. In the top of the fifth, as the Twins tried to storm back, the Cardinals suffocated them with leather.

With two on and one out, Lawless -- no, we're not talking about his brother or his grandmother -- dove over the third base bag for a spectacular smother of a smash, turning a double into a single. That saved a run because on the next play, Ozzie Smith showed why he is Ozzie Smith by diving with his face to the turf, digging in the hole and flipping to second for the force play that Lawless had kept in order. Finally, Vince Coleman made a shoestring catch that a slower man couldn't have reached. Instead of the score being 7-4 with two on and one out, St. Louis led, 7-2, and the inning was over.

For the rest of the night, Lawless "just wanted the game to hurry and end so I could relish the moment."

Dusty Rhodes and Johnny Podres, Rick Dempsey and Buddy Biancalana have more company now. Stylish company. Little fella. Bristly mustache. The one guy you'd never guess. But that's what the World Series always has been -- a Lawless place with rules and caprices of its own.