Revisiting October: Gladden Powers Twins In Game One
With tickets and Homer Hankies sold out for days, Minnesota Twins fans were more than ready for the main event to start.
However the World Series did not start off in the Twins’ favor. Not immediately anyway.
The Cardinals clung to a one-nothing lead through the first three innings. Jim Lindeman, a former roommate of Kirby Puckett’s at Bradley University, reached on a double after his old roomie misjudged what should have been a caught popup to shallow center and later scored on an RBI groundout by Tony Pena.
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Revisiting October: Gladden Powers Twins In Game One
Shortstop Greg Gagne, who fielded the Pena bouncer that allowed Lindeman to score, drew criticism from ABC’s analyst Tim McCarver for the play. McCarver’s analysis, as the Star Tribune’s Bob Lundgaard pointed out, was wrong -- which is surprising considering the color man’s usually spot-on takes.
As it turns out, the run proved to be as harmless as a minnow bite.
Although the left-handed Joe Magrane, a former Minnesota resident himself, had kept the potent Twins hitless through the first three innings, the Twins offense came alive in the fourth inning.
Gary Gaetti, the American League Championship Series MVP, led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. Prior to the game, Gaetti had chatted with reporters in the clubhouse about the Twins’ chances of winning the Series.
“McCarver’s most questionable comment was that Gagne didn’t throw home when the Cardinals scored their only run because, unlike St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith, he needs to plant himself before throwing. Not so. Gagne makes more off-balance throws than most shortstops. In fact it’s probably his major weakness as a fielder.”
After Gaetti’s single, Don Baylor did the same. Ditto for Tom Brunansky. Kent Hrbek followed suit with a chopper up the middle and drove in the team’s first two runs of the Series.
People worried about Hrbek. After all, he had gone 1-for-20 in the ALCS against Detroit. The single, even if it was just a chopper, helped reassure fans he was OK. Later, he talked about that at-bat to the Star Tribune’s Tony Moton.
“I’ve been reading about some people who have said that it’s a disgrace to have us representing the American League,” he said. “The way I figure it, we might as well go ahead and disgrace the whole game by winning it.”
When Steve Lombardozzi walked, the fifth consecutive Twins hitter to reach base, Whitey Herzog emerged to tell Magrane his night was over. Magrane exited to a chorus of “Happy Trails” by Twins fans.
Herzog called on veteran Bob Forsch. Catcher Tim Launder promptly started the singles parade again to score another run and reload the bases. That's when outfielder Dan Gladden came to the plate.
During the regular season, the mulleted Gladden had seven plate appearances with the bases loaded. He had managed just a single in those at-bats.
Earlier in the game Gladden had grounded into a fielder’s choice, eliminating Tim Laudner, who had walked in front of him, at second. With one out, Magrane decided to pay extra attention to the Twins’ outfielder, throwing over to first nine consecutive times reported one Star Tribune blurb. (Nevertheless, on the next batter, Gladden promptly stole second.)
Magrane admitted after the game he focused too much on Gladden, wrote Star Tribune staff writer Jon Roe.
“I just looked at it on the TV, and it was a high fastball away,” Hrbek said, “I was just trying to hit it to the outfield and go to the left field to get the run in.
It’s the old (Twins reserve outfielder) Randy Bush theory. You try to swing as hard as you can in case you hit it.”
Now, with the bases loaded and Magrane out of the game, Gladden launched a 1-2 Forsch offering over the left field plexiglass for the first grand slam in a World Series game since 1970 and put the Twins squarely ahead 7 to 1. The noise at the Dome registered 118 decibels -- the same as a jet taking off -- when the ball cleared the fence.
Twins shortstop Greg Gagne said afterwards that the volume of the crowd was unbelievable at that moment.
“I messed around with him too much,” Magrane said. “I felt if he was going to go, it was going to be on the first pitch. I should have gone after the hitter a lot more. But I just messed around with him too much.”
Sid Hartman later talked to then-Twins general manager Andy McPhail regarding the process of acquiring Gladden late in spring training that year.
“After Gladden hit that grand slam, I was in the batters box and my ears were ringing. I asked Tony (Pena, Cardinals catcher) if his ears were ringing and he couldn’t even hear me.”
After the game Steve Lombardozzi, who would be the recipient of a Gladden punch a season later, raved about the outfielder’s contributions to reporter Dennis Brackin.
Executive vice president Andy McPhail didn’t think Mickey Hatcher could play left field, so he was looking for an outfielder who could run and hit. But it wasn’t until spring training that the Twins made the deal with the San Francisco Giants for Gladden. “Every time I talked to (Giants general manager) Al Rose, he asked for either (young pitchers) Jeff Bumgarner or Steve Gasser,” McPhail said. “I wasn’t going to give either one up.”
“We talked about the deal at least once every week until we made it. Atlanta and the Dodgers were very interested in Gladden. The Giants had made a deal with the Reds for Eddie Milner, and they had an abundance of outfielders. Rosen was reluctant to trade him to a team in the National League. He didn’t want Gladden to come back and hurt him.”
“Rosen finally called one day late in March and said he was going to deal Gladden that day. He said he was willing to make the trade for three of our young pitching prospects. He gave me a list of five, I took two out, and we made the trade.”
The Twins’ starting pitcher Frank Viola, who had to forgo being the best man at his brother’s wedding, was unsolvable for the majority of the game. Having a 10-1 lead didn’t hurt either. Outside of the Puckett misplay that led to the Cardinals’ only run, his results were virtually flawless. Prior to being pulled after eight innings, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first from the fourth inning on. If things had gone differently and the Twins were inclined to shop Viola during the lean years, he may have been in the other dugout, wrote the Star Tribune’s Steve Aschburner.
“I think we needed a little of that,” Lombardozzi said. “Danny is a tough ballplayer. He plays the game hard. … I don’t know how much more I can say about him, other than that he’s added a new dimension to our team. He’s always the first one on the top of the dugout steps yelling and shouting at the opposing players, I don’t know if we haven’t had that before, but…”
The action off the field was just as intense, particularly for the wife of one Cardinal player.
“I’ve always like Viola,” said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, using the word admiration more than affection, particularly this night. “We’ve tried to get him for years.”
“He’s a premier pitcher. He knows how to pitch, he changes speeds real well. He pitched an outstanding ball game.”
Booker was also three months pregnant at the time and was deemed by the hospital to be in fair condition afterward. Her husband, Rod, was actually a former Twins draft pick who had spent three seasons in the organization, reaching AAA in 1982, but was purchased by the Cardinals shortly after the 1983 season began. Booker was left off the World Series roster in 1987.
A few sections away from Booker’s knockout, Chip and Wendy Lantz had donned a tuxedo and a white dress. The Anoka couple had wed just hours before the first pitch and found themselves with tickets to the biggest game of the year. It almost didn’t happen -- the game, not the wedding. The bride had a ticket, the groom did not. She told columnist Jim Klobuchar she was ready to go the game -- on her wedding night -- minus the new hubby. That is, until her two brothers gave them a surprise wedding gift.
Kathy Booker, wife of St. Louis Cardinals infielder Rod Booker, was knocked unconscious briefly during Saturday’s World Series game when a foul ball caromed off concrete behind her and struck her head. She was removed from the stands behind home plate on a stretcher.
The newlyweds’ good fortune finding a pair of tickets was not the norm around the area. That morning, the Twins placed 11,200 tickets for games 6 and 7 and the seats could only be ordered by phone from Dayton’s. The rush of calls overwhelmed the phone grid, Northwestern Bell’s agents told the Star Tribune’s Mary Jane Smetanka, knocking out service as far west as Bismarck, North Dakota as well as parts of South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. While the inconvenience lasted just a few hours, it was enough to irk some residents of the state.
“But the bride’s brothers, vendors at the Dome, extracted two tickets from a travel agency. The couple arrived shortly before the opening pitch, serenaded by the crowd in their section as they descended the steps, she in her white gown with her boat collar and lace, he in his black tails and yellow rose. It was the wrong place to drink champagne out of her slipper, so they drank beer offered by the crowd. For their wedding supper they ate bratwurst.”
For Donald E. Roberts of Rochester, a sellout couldn’t come soon enough. The 24-year-old student had the same telephone number as the ticket line, though in a different area code.
He estimated several hundred calls interrupted him as he was packing to move to Florida, but he was reluctant to take the phone off the hook because he was hoping for some response to ads he placed to sell some belongings.
Saying he couldn’t care less who wins the World Series, Roberts snarled, “Baseball is 45 minutes packed into four hours.”
I'm sure watching Joe Magrane throw over to first nine times in a row to keep Dan Gladden close didn't help the pace.
****More Revisiting October:
October 12, 1987: Twins Top Tigers
October 16, 1987: Twins Mania Grips Minnesota