In 1978 I was a senior at Van Nuys high school. Somehow my girlfriend, who played the flute, convinced me to join the marching band as a glockenspiel player. It was going to be an easy gig. I was the only glock player in the band so every week I’d line up at the 50, march straight out into the middle of the field where I would march in place as the rest of the band did dipsy doodles around me. Sweet.
So I figured, what’s the harm of it? I’ll go to a few rehearsals after school, see some football games and when the smoke clears I’ll be doing the horizontal mambo.
Well I’ll tell you what the harm of it is: You run the risk of missing one of the great Dodger playoff games of all time!
In 1977 the Dodgers were in the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. (before that they had last been to the post season in 1966) This was the Garvey/Cey/Lopes Dodger team beginning to come into its own and there was a lot of excitement in Los Angeles at that time.
On October 7th the Dodgers played one of the most exciting and improbable playoff games against the Philadelphia Phillies. Was I glued to our black and white Panasonic TV living and dying on every pitch? No. I was standing on the 50 yard line in some road football stadium in South Central LA playing glock. (Why did they schedule that team? Grant High was only 3 miles away, for crying out loud)
So the game: Burt Hooten, who threw a knuckle-curve and was known as a control specialist, started for the Dodgers. Things were going well for him until the 3rd inning when he imploded. He got a couple of bad calls from the home plate ump and the bases were loaded. All of a sudden the Phillies fans, not known for their good cheer, came alive and Hooten was visibly shaken. He proceeded to walk the next three hitters starting with Larry Christenson, the opposing pitcher. Three bases loaded walks in a row! I’d bet my eye teeth that’s a playoff record that still stands.
The game was 5-3 in going to the top of the 9th. The Dodgers had two outs and nobody on and seemed destined to go down 2-1 in the best of 5 playoff when…
“Pinch hitting of the Dodgers, number 33…Vic Davillio.”
Vic Davillio! We’re talking journeyman Vic Davillio. The Vic Davillio who was born in 1936, came up in 1963, played 17 years in the bigs and enjoyed collecting a pay check signed by Mr. O’Malley for services rendered sitting on the bench and enjoying a ballgame. (he had 75 at bats that year)
So what did he do, you ask? He beat out a perfectly executed drag bunt. A bunt! I can picture LaSorda in the dugout: “WAKE UP MOTA. SOMEBODY WAKE UP MOTA!”
Manny Mota, also at the tail end of his career, was a pinch hitter extraordinaire. He hit a booming double of the wall which Greg Luzinski couldn’t handle, scoring Davillio. Now it was the Phillies turn to implode with errant throws, wild pitches, bad calls by the umps. The Dodgers came away with a 6-5 victory.
And until yesterday, I had missed it.
Go to 20:10 to see Hooten walk the ballpark and melt down. Then skip ahead to 1:52 to watch Davillio and Mota win the game.