NEW YORK -- Like the Super Bowl, the World Series often fails to generate a spectacle to match its buildup.
The Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals provided an exception last fall, delivering a matchup that proved not only exciting but memorable. In fact, not since Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in 1977 has the Series produced so historic a contest as Game 6.
For those fans battling cold weather and Super Bowl hype, we hereby reproduce the circumstances that inscribed Game 6 into memory:
With St. Louis leading the Series three games to two, the teams returned to Kansas City for Game 6 and, if necessary, 7.
The Royals' Charlie Leibrandt, a hard-luck loser in Game 2, opposed Cardinals' right-hander Danny Cox.
Through 6 innings, neither team scored. Then began another of the sequences that made this World Series a second-guesser's paradise. With one out in the Kansas City seventh, Steve Balboni walked. One out later, Buddy Biancalana singled.
With the go-ahead run in scoring position and Leibrandt due to bat, Royals' manager Dick Howser faced a decision. Leibrandt was pitching well, but he had also faltered late in his previous start. Furthermore, even if pinch hitter Hal McRae drove in the run, Dan Quisenberry looked like anything but a sure thing to hold the lead.
Howser let Leibrandt hit. Cox struck him out, ending the inning.
In the eighth, the Cardinals scored a run that looked big enough to give them the championship, but a seldom-recalled play by second baseman Frank White kept the Royals in the game.
With one out, Terry Pendleton singled, a hit that could have clinched Series MVP honors for him had the Cardinals won. He advanced on a walk and scored when seldom-used Brian Harper singled for a 1-0 lead.
After Ozzie Smith walked, Willie McGee made a strong bid for a hit, but White robbed him and forced Smith at second. St. Louis led 1-0 and needed six more outs.
In the bottom of the ninth, St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog made one move and failed to make another, raising the second guess.
He brought in reliever Todd Worrell, even though Ken Dayley had breezed through the eighth. Herzog's move raised the memory of a similar situation in 1977, when as Royals' manager he replaced Steve Mingori with Dennis Leonard in the top of the ninth. Leonard proceeded to blow the game.
The non-move perhaps proved even more crucial. For some reason, Herzog never in sent Mike Jorgensen as a defensive replacement for first baseman Jack Clark.
Jorge Orta opened by hitting for Pat Sheridan and sent a high chopper to the right side of the infield. Worrell wasted a split second, uncertain whether to go for the ball or cover first base. Clark fielded the ball and sent it to Worrell covering first, where umpire Don Denkinger incorrectly ruled Orta safe.
The call unfairly left Denkinger as the center of controversy, even though the Cardinals made several mistakes in the inning.
Balboni batted next and lifted a high pop near the dugout and first-base stands. Clark lost sight of it while feeling his way near the dugout, and it fell. Given a second chance, Balboni singled to left.
The Cardinals postponed disaster when they barely forced Orta on Sundberg's sacrifice attempt. With one out and two on, McRae batted for Biancalana, and Porter committed a passed ball. McRae then received an intentional pass.
This time, Howser had no choice but to hit for his pitcher. Dane Iorg batted for Quisenberry and fisted a single to right field, bringing home two runs.
The next night, Bret Saberhagen shut out the Cardinals to give the Royals the championship.