A suspect narrative during the 2013 World Series when the Cardinals were going for their 12th title was that the Red Sox faithful were somehow deprived, cursed because they hadn’t celebrated a World Series victory on hallowed Fenway soil since 1918. Close this one out in Boston and the fans can finally die in peace. Never mind that the Red Sox had won two titles in the last nine seasons, a feat most fan bases would only dream of. No, they had to win at home to feel completely whole apparently. It felt like a cheap and lazy ploy by the media to squeeze whatever goodwill was left over from the storybook 2004 World Series, and if I’m being completely honest, it was mostly annoying because I had to hear it while the Cardinals were losing the final three games of the series.
But looking back I sort of get it. Winning a World Series in front of the home fans is special. It means 44,000 simultaneously happy, delirious people erupting all at the exact same time which always beats a stadium full of dejected souls staring glumly at an enemy pile of euphoria. (Note: There are exceptions.) In this sense, the Cardinals are even luckier than we thought. Their last three World Series titles - all occurring in the age of quality television footage - were won in front of the home fans. Some of us were at the games. Most of us just watched on television surrounded by friends and loved ones. Either way, pretty great.
Because we live in the 21st Century, we can go back and watch it all over again, something I do far too often. Had YouTube existed in Rogers Hornsby’s time, I’m sure this is what he would have done to pass the days during the offseason. Watch these clips a good hundred times or so and a few thing jump out that aren’t noticeable on the first couple of viewings. What follows are these moments, the overlooked stuff from the final pitch and aftermath celebration of the 1982, 2006, and 2011 World Series. First up is 1982.
Here’s Jack Buck with the call on October 20, 1982, as Bruce Sutter strikes out Gorman Thomas to clinch the series in seven games:
Regarding the earlier mentioned human pile of euphoria, everyone wants to join in on that action - even this guy (bottom left).
Judging by his blue jeans, there’s a very good chance he isn’t supposed to be out there. That’s fine. If you can’t be one of the guys, the next best option is to celebrate with them. Anyway, let’s see how it goes.
Aaand nope. Watch carefully, Ozzie Smith almost tears an ACL trying to climb over this lug to celebrate with his teammates. I’m glad that didn’t happen.
I share contradictory feelings that a lot of you probably do in that I don’t think a fan ever belongs on the field yet I’m usually pretty thrilled when they are. About 99% of the time it’s self-serving and grotesque. But sometimes it makes for an iconic moment, like the two fans who followed Hank Aaron around the bases after home run number 715. Watch really old footage of a team clinching the World Series and fans just swarm the field as if they belong. I’m not sure when that trend was finally curtailed but it wasn’t in 1982.
Now that’s a party. Was it helmet night or did an inordinate amount of people wear those to the games way back when? I can’t imagine that’s comfortable. And what exactly is that guy doing on the field with the bucket? Petey, jump. I’ll catch you in this.
It wasn’t just an invasion of fans, but dogs, too. Here at the 00:21 mark you can see three different breeds near the bottom of the screen.
The two on the left belong to the law. The third dog, the one with the lighter coat, might also be with the cop who’s getting patted down by the guy in the red jacket OR is just a good dog who attended the game independently and on his/her own accord. Choose to believe what you want.
And while the cops near the top of the mound are doing a hilarious job failing to maintain order - seriously, they’re like a couple of lions failing to protect their kill as the hyenas move in - the fans circled below are doing a hilarious job of stealing stuff.
The guy at the bottom of the screen in the green coat scores a hat and hightails it out of there. The gent in the red hat near the top grabs something white from the mound, I believe, and exits stage right. Could be a rosin bag? I have no idea what the guy in the red jacket just stole from the mound but he is indeed quite pleased with himself as he lumbers away freely to right field like he’s Gale Sayers. Also present: A guy topping off a brown blazer and blue jeans with a batting helmet. See if you can find him.
And finally at the 00:50 mark, we have the players rightfully blowing off the guy in the bird costume to hit the clubhouse and party.
Maybe another time, Fredbird. And next week we’ll do Part 2: The 2006 World Series.
Special thanks to the incomparable @SimulacruMusial (né VanHicklestein) for his help with the GIFs.