I could’ve seen this one coming. On our crazy ’77 road trip we haven’t been ending up anywhere we thought we would, so Cleveland seems like the perfect icing on the cake—er, lake.
From the moment we wake up on these frigid benches in Edgewater Park and Mikey sees Lake Erie and yells out, “Jersey shore!” the day is just plain weird. We find a neighborhood called Slavic Village and have a fat-tastic late breakfast at this corner market/cafe with old ladies making pierogies in the back room. Then we have one argument after another with Mikey because he wants to either go to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (which doesn’t open for another 18 years) or see the Raspberries play at the Agora Ballroom, even though the band broke up two years ago.
It takes at least an hour to convince everyone that there’s an actual good game going on at Municipal Stadium against the Rangers later, and at least Crazy Amy is stoked about that because it involves one of her two adopted Ohio teams.The problem is the butt-cold spring weather we’re about to experience in that giant drafty ballpark cavern, so we spend at least two more hours digging in thrift stores for sweaters and jackets to pile on.
It doesn’t help. There’s about 15,000 people on hand for the game, but because they’re scattered all over the place and the place seats over four times that many, it still looks like the Roman Coliseum with a bunch of crows inside. Mikey and Friendly Fred decide to tour the park instead of watch the action, and they drift off in the 1st inning and we never see them again. I’m stuck with Sherman and scoring-mad Lester and Crazy Amy in the upper deck over home plate, the perfect spot for howling winds to blow off the lake and cut through us like razors through jello.
“We r-r-really n-need to find D-d-dodger S-s-stadium soon!” says Sherman, trying to drink a paper cup of coffee with mittens and spilling half of it. As for Amy, she didn’t even want to walk in the park when she saw the “politically sickening” Chief Wahoo sign outside, but changed her mind when I told her maybe cute Fred Kendall would catch for the Indians, even though I have no idea what Jason’s dad looks like.
The Rangers and Indians are packed near the bottom of the American League along with Chicago, the Twins, and the Yanks, and with K.C. having trouble in Boston again tonight, both of these clubs have a chance to pick up a huge game in the loss column. So Kurt Bevacqua, filling in for injured Horton in the Texas cleanup hole, bombs one over the fence in left after a Harrah single in the 1st, and the stadium gets so quiet you can hear the ball knocking and clanging off the empty seats out there.
But after Jim Norris takes Nelson Briles out to start the Tribe 1st, we begin to hear something else. BUM-bum-bum-bum-BUM-bum-bum-bum-BUM-bum-bum-bum. It’s the bass drum of John Adams, the guy who started pounding the thing in the center field bleachers in 1973, meaning he’s only in his fourth year tonight. “Someone should go tell him he may as well bring his whole apartment out there,” says Amy in a rare moment of caring about someone, “’cause his team isn’t winning the Series anytime soon.”
The drumming does get the few fans around us clapping, and it gets the other Indians hitting. Bochte walks, Bell doubles, Thornton singles, Grubb hits a sac fly, and it’s 3-2 for the home boys in a hurry. On the hill for Cleveland is dashing Dennis Eckersley, 0-3 so far, but Amy has no interest in him. “Why’s Fosse playing?” she asks, “What do they got against Kendall?” Three singles and a Bochte walk make it 4-2, before a horrible Larvell Blanks error in the 3rd scores Bump Wills to make it 4-3.
Eckersley makes a bad throw himself on a dribbler to start a Texas rally in the 4th that ties it up, and the Dashing One is as erratic as ever. “WHERE’S KENDALL, GODDAMNIT??” yells Amy, and Sherman and Lester pick up and move a whole half-empty section away from her. I walk over to join them, and when I turn back, the woman has also disappeared. I wonder how I’m ever going to find everyone after the game, but the good about us being here is that I could probably stand, yell each of their names and they’d hear me.
The drum starts up again for the Indian 5th, and Bochte answers by slamming one over the boards down in right. Briles whiffs Bell and Thornton, but three straight singles and two walks make it 7-4 and bring Lindblad in from the Texas pen. Eckersley gets the first two guys in the 6th, then does his Briles act, giving up a Beniquez single, Hargrove double and walks to Wills and Harrah and it’s 7-5.
A Campaneris boot adds another Tribe run in the 8th and Sherman just shakes his head. “Bunch of schmendricks we got here,” he says, “All of ’em!” Still, they leave Eck in for the 9th, even after Toby Harrah leads off by smashing homer no. 12 off him. Washington singles with one out, but Sundberg whiffs, Dave May skies out, and Eckersley has his first win.
The second the game ends, though, we see a commotion down by the Cleveland dugout, where Crazy Amy is trying to climb over the box seat rail, yelling “Kendall! Where are you, Kendall??” and security guards drag her off. Mikey and Friendly Fred track us down in the parking lot, their ears ringing from sitting too close to the drum man, and we’re able to pry Amy out of a security guard house after listening to them lecture her.
“Aw, what the hell,” she says, “Plummer’s a better catch anyway. And at least the Indians won.”
“Correct, and they’re in front of the Yankees now,” pipes in Lester. “By .08 percentage points.” And that is the perfect capper to this wicked crackpot day.
TEX 201 101 001 – 6 8 1
CLE 310 030 01x – 8 13 3
W-Eckersley L-Briles HRS: Bevqcqua, Harrah, Norris, Bochte GWRBI-Bochte
at RED SOX 7-11-1, ROYALS 5-8-1
Not as wild as yesterday’s circus, but a good encore. Sox go up 2-0 with help of two-base Brett error in the 1st. It’s 2-1 when Brett ties game in 6th by singling in Poquette. McRae takes Aase over the wall and it’s 4-2 K.C. Lynn double and Montgomery pinch sac fly ties it 4-4. Cowens singles in Patek and it’s 5-4 Royals in the 7th. Boomer Scott ties it with solo tater off Mingori, before two singles, three walks, a sac bunt and sac fly wins it for Boston in the 8th. Lee, Willoughby and Campbell retire all seven Royals they see in relief.
W-Willoughby L-Mingori SV-Campbell HRS: McRae, Scott GWRBI-Burleson
TWINS 7-11-1, at YANKEES 2-6-0
Story of the Bomber season so far. Missing offense and surprisingly bad pitching. Guidry gives up six runs and ten hits in less than seven innings work for his second loss in a row. Luis Gomez starts for Smalley at short and collects two key doubles and a single for the rising Twinks.
W-Schueler (CG!) L-Guidry GWRBI-Ford
at ORIOLES 9-14-2, WHITE SOX 5-10-0
Chicago has really faded after a fast start. Chris Knapp gets creamed for two doubles, two Singleton homers and one by Bumbry in just the first four innings. To their credit, the Chisox battle back and score five off Flanagan before Tippy M. puts them to sleep. Bad Bird News: Bumbry goes out for four games, like their 53rd injury since the season began.
W-Flanagan L-Knapp HRS: Soderholm, Singleton-2, Bumbry GWRBI-Murray
at PIRATES 7-9-1, ASTROS 2-6-2
The beatings go on for Buc opponents. Clouts off J.R. Richard no less by Pops and Cobra propel Pittsburgh to their TENTH win in a row, and the Candy Man cruises.
W-Candelaria L-Richard HRS: Cedeno, Stargell, Parker GWRBI-Stargell
CARDS 5-12-0, at EXPOS 0-5-0
Bob Forsch is the master of his Montreal domain.
W-Forsch L-Rogers HR: Freed GWRBI-Freed
at PHILLIES 5-9-1, CUBS 0-6-2
Larry Christenson emulates Bob Forsch. It’s 1-0 in the 8th when Bull Luzinski sends one over the fence with two aboard, and lo and behold, the Phils are in third place.
W-Christenson L-Bonham HR: Luzinski GWRBI-Bowa
DODGERS 5-9-1, at REDS 2-5-1
Impressive win to get the L.A. blue man group back on track. Hooton goes the distance and Yeager cracks two out of the yard off a bewildered Doug Capilla. Lopes begins the game by scoring on a single and 3-base Griffey error, a bad Cincy omen for sure.
W-Hooton L-Capilla HRS: Yeager-2, Lopes, Bench-2
American League through Wednesday, May 7
National League through Wednesday, May 7