I got up again the next inning. We’d scored another run in the fourth. We were up, 5-3, and the Dodgers had pulled Hooton for Elias Sosa. They knew they had to stop us there.
Sosa was an outstanding relief pitcher. Threw hard. Harder than Hooton, ninety-five miles an hour or so. Seems the Dodgers always had guys who threw in the high nineties.
This time Willie Randolph was on first when I came to bat. I knew Sosa was still going to keep the ball inside. I watched him warming up when he came in; I saw what he threw. I thought of Stick and Birdie Tebbetts again and what we had talked about. That was enough. I knew Sosa would try to pitch inside as well.
I was just hoping he’d hurry up and throw a strike early. Sure enough, he threw it in. I turned on it. Smashed it. I was worried it wasn’t going to stay up because I thought I’d got on top of it a little. It was hit so hard I didn’t think it had a chance to get up high enough to get out. I was afraid I smothered it a bit. I remember running down to first base saying, “Stay up, stay up, stay up, stay up, stay up.”
It seemed like I hit it harder than the last one. Too fast for anyone to snare it. Went just four or five rows into the seats, but it was enough. I think it might have gone through the wall if it had been a little lower. I noticed that the moment it went out, Tommy Lasorda came running out to the mound to pull his pitcher. Too late.
I was just excited that I had put us ahead by 7-3. I knew we had a good chance to win then. And I could hear the fans. They were yelling, “Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!” The whole stadium.
That was nice to hear. It helped, hearing that. It helped me to focus.
You focus on the moment. Just the pitcher and me. If I got anything to hit, I was going to be on it.
I’m just focused on the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand and I was going to put a swing on it, and I was going to be on time. You want to have the barrel of the bat there, right on the ball. Oh, boy, did I!
In the dugout, I turned to the camera, held up two fingers this time, and dropped a big “Hi, Mom!” She couldn’t be at the game, she wasn’t feeling well, but I was the one who started that whole “Hi, Mom!” thing. This was October 18, 1977- so I want the copyright on “Hi, Mom!” LOL.
The crowd was yelling so much Ray Negron was trying to push me out to take a bow. I remember him telling me, “Go back out there for the fans.”
Guys do that all the time now, even in the middle of a regular-season game. It didn’t happen so much back then. You did that then, you were liable to get a fastball in your ear next time up.
I wasn’t about to take a curtain call. Not in the sixth inning of a World Series game. I told Ray, “All I want to do right now is win this thing” – which is how I felt.
Ray was still elbowing me, saying, “Maybe you’re gonna hit three.” I kind of pushed him off. I told him, “I don’t know about that.”
I didn’t need that kind of distraction. I’d already hit two. That’s enough. Whoever heard of anybody hitting three? Babe Ruth. That’s who did that – though I didn’t know it at the time.
I was more excited because we were in the lead. Everybody was excited. We felt that we were going to win. Mike Torrez had got into a groove; he was pretty much in control on the mound. We had Sparky Lyle in the bullpen, who was rested, and he was the best.
For once, there was no envy, no jealousy. Billy was genuinely excited. He was happy for me and the team. We had a chance to win as the Yankees. We were a team at that point – a team at last.