Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #276,Chris Chambliss Home Run (Article 53)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
I used to love “sideways cards,” as I called them.
This card seemed to capture so much of this magic moment – Chris Chambliss hitting a huge game-winning home run to propel the Yankees into the World Series.
An amazing homer.
But I didn’t see it.
I didn’t even know about it.
When he hit it, I didn’t even know who Chris Chambliss was, and I wouldn’t have cared.
But that all changed very quickly.
One of my first baseball memories is of kids talking about a guy named Chris Chambliss, who was a Yankee, who hit one out of the park.
“He hit it out of the park!”
Young, unknowing, and not yet a fan, I thought they were all talking about a guy who actually hit a home run out of a stadium… Yankee Stadium.
I can recall listening to all of this, trying to fit in, and asking, “He hit it out?” and the kids responding “Yes.”
(Maybe they knew as little as I did or maybe they knew that hitting it out just meant hitting a home run. Me, I was eight-years-old and very literal. I believed that the guy named Chambliss actually hit it out of the baseball stadium. They all said he “hit it out of the park.”)
I believed that Chambliss’ homer went all the way out of the stadium for a long long time (there being no video tape to watch of the game). It was a long time, years, before I finally actually saw the replay of the actual homer.
The Yankees pennant my dad bought me after attending my first game in 1977 didn’t help dispel the myth. It showed a ball being hit out of Yankee Stadium.
Yes, this is the actual pennant. Of course I saved it. Wouldn’t you?
“That was Chambliss’ homer,” I said. “He hit it out of the stadium.”
Whenever I’d tell people that Chambliss hit one out, they’d all agree with me – young and old alike.
As my Yankee fandom grew, and I started reading more and more about the Yankees, when I came across the fact that no player had ever hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium, I was confused.
“Of course someone did. Chris Chambliss did it.”
When you’re growing up lots of things just don’t make sense. At one everyone said that Chambliss did this and yet, at the same time, the experts were saying that nobody said he did.
“Chris Chambliss hit one out…right?”
The other major thing I remember from that time in October 1976 were all the radios blasting the Queen song We Are The Champions. I had never heard the song before and now everyone was playing it.
The Yankees were the champions and the song was blasting everywhere.
For a long time, I thought Queen had written that song for the Yankees.
(Queen was actually my first favorite rock band, but that came later with a song titled Another One Bites The Dust. The album that song appeared on (The Game) was the first record I ever had. (Yes, I still have it.) Sometime soon after I bought News of the World, the album that contained We Are The Champions. Classics all of them.)
I became a Yankees fan for good in 1977, the season of this card series. These were the first cards I purchased in packs at the store. These were the first cards I collected.
I went to Yankee Stadium for the first time in 1977 I got my first pennant (see above), my first scorecard, and my first Yankees Yearbook at that game. (I have them all, still.)
Graig Nettles, my hero, homered in that game and the Yankees won.
It was all pure magic.
All I knew in those early years was Yankees success. I thought the Yankees would always win.
And Chris Chambliss started it all – my lifetime love of the Yankees, even if I didn’t know about any of it when he hit the ball and circled the bases.
In a way, figuratively at least, that blast off Chambliss’ bat really did go out of the park.
In fact, that ball is still sailing…