I was a huge Yankees fan in 1981, having that summer gone to my first Major League game at Yankee Stadium as a 6-year old. Reggie Jackson hit a monster home run, there was a bench-clearing brawl, the young women behind us were smoking weed, and we beat the traffic home. Thus, I was and am a Yankees fan. Cut me some slack.
A few months later, the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers unfolded as one of the weirder in modern times.
A journeyman name George Frazier managed to lose three games for the Yankees, a World Series record.
Goose Gossage hit Ron Cey in the head with a 100-m.p.h. fastball.
Reggie Jackson made a crucial error when he lost the ball in the late afternoon L.A. sun.
And Steinbrenner, the Yankee owner who died today, likely punched a wall after one of the losses in L.A., but then came up with this incredible story that he'd been in a fight with two Dodger fans.
Here was his money quote: “There are two guys in this town looking for their teeth and two guys who will probably sue me.”
No one sued. The Dodgers won in six games, ending a World Series drought and giving Tommy Lasorda the first of two rings as manager.