A&E // 1977 // 807 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // April 19th, 2007
October glory returns to the Bronx!
In the 1970s, the New York Yankees had been floundering. The days of Mantle, Maris and the like had long since departed, and since capturing the American League pennant in 1964, the Yankees experienced seasons that were underachieving in some circles and completely unsatisfactory by Yankee fan standards. Even when the Yankees would do well, such as a 93 win season in 1970, they were still trailing the champion by over a dozen games.
Then a shipping entrepreneur by the name of George Steinbrenner purchased the club in 1973, and the team's fortunes began to change, although not immediately, as the team finished under .500 that year before coming just short of the pennant in 1974. There was a letdown year in 1975 before winning the pennant in 1976, only to get swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.
Steinbrenner was willing to take advantage of the system available, and paid for the game's top talent to come to New York. He hired an energetic manager and former Yankee player in Billy Martin to helm the club. And after the 1976 season, Steinbrenner made a pitch for and signed a talented right fielder by the name of Reggie Jackson to become the cornerstone of the team. He responded with 32 home runs and over 100 runs batted in (not to mention a .286 batting average) to help lead the team. And even with Steinbrenner's large wallet, the team reaped the rewards of a strong minor league system, with all-stars like Thurman Munson. They even acquired talent smartly, with players like Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss and Mickey Rivers providing significant roles to the team. The team also had a formidable pitching staff, as Ed Figueroa and Ron Guidry had 16-win seasons each, and Don Gullett (who had helped beat the Yankees in the previous year's Series) threw in 14 more wins. Sparky Lyle was the main reliever of the team, saving 26 games while winning 13 others.
And after a 1977 season that saw the Yankees win 100 games, they beat the Kansas City Royals three games to two in a best of five games series, looking ahead to play their longtime rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had moved from Brooklyn two decades prior. The Dodgers finished first in the National League West and beat the Philadelphia Phillies, buoyed by an all-star infield -- first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and third baseman Ron Cey, not to mention outfielders Reggie Smith and Dusty Baker. Pitching-wise, the Dodgers had a 20-game winner in Tommy John, a 16-game winner in Rick Rhoden and 14 wins from veteran Don Sutton.
When the series started, nobody thought it would provide one of the game's more transcendent moments, but it started with a firecracker of a game. The Dodgers got two runs early in Game One at Yankee stadium, and the Yankees got one of them back in the first inning. Gradually, the Yankees evened and pulled ahead of the Dodgers, who managed to tie the game in the ninth inning. The game remained tied until the twelfth inning, when Paul Blair (who substituted for Jackson) singled the winning run in. Game Two saw the Dodgers dominate early again, scoring five runs in the first three innings. Dodgers pitcher Burt Hooten limited the Yankees to five hits, securing a win for the Dodgers 6-1. Going to Los Angeles helped the Yankees' cause, with a 5-3 win in Game Three and 4-2 in Game Four, before the Dodgers blasted the Yanks 10-4 in Game Five, moving the series back to the Bronx.
And it's there where one of the most memorable moments in series history occurred. Actually it's the 30th anniversary of the year of this event too. Game Six started off with another quick Dodgers start, with two runs in the first. The Yanks evened it up in the second, and the Dodgers got a run in the third. And that's when the Yankees had them where they wanted them. Reggie Jackson hit a home run with one man on in the fourth inning to put the Yankees in front 4-3. Another run was added in the inning. The Dodgers replaced Hooton with Elias Sosa in the fifth inning. Oh well, new pitcher, same result. Jackson hit another home run with a man on to put the Yankees up 7-3. And in the eighth inning, with the Yankee crowd in a frenzy and Dodgers pitcher Charlie Hough on the mound, Jackson hit a third home run, clinching the series for the Yankees (the final score was 8-4), giving Jackson a new nickname (Mr. October), a subsequent candy bar deal and a firm place in baseball history.
Oh, and not only do you get all of the World Series games, but the game where the Yankees beat the Royals to advance to the Series. That one was equally as suspenseful to be honest, as in the decisive Game Five, the Royals were ahead 3-1 going into the eighth inning. However the Yankees scored four runs to win the game and the series. Major League Baseball continues to release the complete World Series games as part of sets, and this one is the oldest that I've seen to this point. For a three decades' old TV broadcast, the games look pretty decent, as Keith Jackson, Tom Seaver and Howard Cosell paint pictures with their words. Except the pictures are already there for you.
For nostalgia and for Yankees' fans, you know you want to get this. The broadcasts look OK, the players in the series are names most of you still recognize, and like I said before, Jackson's accomplishment is one of the more thrilling moments in World Series history. It's worth adding to your sports library.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 807 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extra Footage
* Official Team Site
* Major League Baseball Site