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Didja Ever Notice What They Wrote?

Part IV of a continuing series on Game 6 of the 1986 World Series

I went to work for my dad at a baseball card show on Sunday, October 26, 1986, and since we had to get up early to head to New Jersey, I didn't get to go through the newspaper as thoroughly as I would.

Nowadays, if there's a big baseball event, I like to read about it from as many different perspectives as possible. That wasn't something that was as easily accessible back then as it is today, with the magic of the internet allowing the ability to surf a dozen newspapers within a few minutes. Thankfully now, we have the capability to flash back, and when I was given the opportunity to test a newspaper database a few years ago, I checked its thoroughness by compiling the different stories written about Game 6 of the World Series.

The cool thing about going through the various pieces is how clever some of the writing could be, particularly at such a late hour with deadline pressures looming in many cities.

What I did likely read that morning was the New York Daily News, and deadlines being what they were, I believe that Phil Pepe was a bit rushed in trying to put together his game story. From what I gather, he only had time to write the most basic lead: "Down to their last out, the Mets ralied for three runs in the bottom of the 11th inning last night at Shea to beat the Red Sox, 6-5, and force Game 7 of the World Series." (The Daily News published a compilation of stories from the season and it did include that typo referring to the inning of reckoning).

Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune was able to find a way to tie one jinxed city back to another: "To err is human. To err at first base in a crucial postseason game seems to be a Cub malaise."

Tom Boswell of the Washington Post was his usual wordy, but creative self: " "When this World Series finally is laid to rest, several exhibits should be shipped directly to the Hall of Fame in Blooperstown as evidence that Game 6- probably the most thrillingly atrocious contest ever perpetrated on a Classic- really came to pass."

Bruce Lowitt of the St. Petersburg Times had a series of rather humorous one liners, more noteworthy than his lead. He evidently is quick-witted. About halfway through his story, he wrote "If the World Series had been a pleasure cruise to the fans of most teams, it has been to two generations of Bostonians, a stateroom on the Titanic, a deck chair on the Lusitania, first class passage on the Hindenburg."

Howard Sinker (an apt name for a baseball follower) of the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) decided to rub it in to those who chose not to watch: "Tell your friends about all four hours, what they missed by going out Saturday night and failing to witness baseball's greatest comeback."

Bernie Lincicome of the Chicago Tribune sounds a little bitter: "One extra-inning thriller doesn't make a great World Series, but we'll take what we can get."

Former Met turned broadcaster Jimmy Piersall was called upon to critique the games for the Chicago Sun-Times. He too was a bitter man. "Major league baseball, my foot. The Mets 6-5 victory over the Red Sox last night in Game Six was one of the worst World Series games of all time."

Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post had some fun: "I can only imagine what the good citizens of Boston are doing now. Are the blindfolds in place? Are they out on the window ledges? Have they wrapped up the sharp instruments?"

So did Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "The born losers are at it again. So what else is new?"

Mark Purdy of Knight Ridder's chain of papers had the good fortune to write a piece before the game concluded on someone that he thought had a chance to be a hero. The Seattle Times ran the piece anyway, apparently. "Some people give their bodies to science. Bill Buckner is giving his to the World Series."

Hal Bock of the Associated Press has been doing this for a long time. He's pretty good. "It would not happen this time, the Boston Red Sox had promised. Not in this World Series. Their failures belong to the past. That was then, this is now. Alas, the team that lived by the last strike in the American League playoffs died by the last strike when the World Series was in hand against the New York Mets in Game 6."

I say this with a slightly biased viewpoint, but my favorite lead comes from Bus Saidt of the Trenton Times. Saidt, a wannabe play-by-play guy (like myself) pursued sportswriting instead (like myself) and made a great career out of covering the Mets, Yankees, and Phillies, all at the same time, writing stories that blended game information with commentary. He died before I got to work for that paper, but was posthumously selected as the recipient of a baseball writers highest honor: The Ford C. Frick Award.

On this night, Saidt's style was able to capture with his first sentence the emotions of millions of Mets fans who were sitting, watching the game at home (like myself).

"I'm sitting here and I still don't believe it."


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