I Remember ...
1976 All-Star Yankees first baseman
ou’ve seen the crazy footage of Chris Chambliss trying to run through a mob of Yankees fans after his walkoff home run in the deciding Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS against Kansas City. You know that his home run, one of the most famous in the storied history of old Yankees Stadium, sent New York to the World Series. What you may not remember is that the game was much like that series, a tight, backand-forth affair. Chambliss picks up the story for Sporting News as he arrived at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, 6-6.
CHAMBLISS: COURTESY CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS; CHAMBLISS (1976): AP
Chambliss was 27 when his home run sent the Yankees to the 1976 World Series. Today, at 60, he is the manager of the Charlotte Knights, the Class AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
It was kind of a chilly night. In anticipation of the first pitch of that inning, fans were throwing stuff all over the field. Mark Littell was warming up, and I was ready to hit. The grounds crew had to clean up the field, so there was a long wait. I can’t say I was nervous. But I can’t say I was calm either. They finally cleaned up all the stuff, and Mark wound up and threw the first pitch. I knew if I tried to hit a home run, I’d hit a grounder to second. So I tried to stay with my approach and put the bat on the ball. I got lucky enough to hit it out. I hit some (home runs) where when I hit it, I knew it. That was not one of them. Their right fielder jumped for it. When he didn’t come down with it, that’s when I knew. That was as magical of a moment as you would expect, except the fans were all over the field. It made the moment a little different than
it should have been. I touched first, touched second and (was knocked down by a fan) right after touching second. All I could think about was people jumping on top of me, so I quickly got up. Somebody tried to steal my helmet, so I tucked it underneath my arm. I ran way around third base because there were fans all around it. It was the same way with home plate, so I ran straight to the dugout. I didn’t touch third or home. I got into the clubhouse, and everybody was asking if I touched the plate. I said there was no way I could have touched home. So I took my jersey off and put a jacket on. I took two cops, and the three of us went through the crowd and walked up to home plate. As we looked down at home plate, it was gone. Someone had stolen it. — As told to Matt Crossman
6/25/09 9:36:36 AM