In a few days, we’ll get to see Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera make mincemeat of some poor Tigers pitcher. Or maybe we’ll see Sergio Romo running for his life as Pablo Sandoval prepares to leap on top of him. No matter which team wins, we’ll see players from the winning team jump for joy, rush out from the dugout, pile on top of each other and be handed official World Series champion caps and T-shirts while they’re still being crushed by relief pitchers hurtling into the pile.
It wasn’t always like that, of course. World Series celebrations weren’t always a moment where life and limb were put in jeopardy. When did this craziness start? Well, your faithful blogger did some homework. I went back and searched through my DVD collection of World Series highlight films that Major League Baseball issued a couple years ago (a highly recommended Christmas present for the baseball fan in your life). These are the original films issued at the time, and while they didn’t always show the complete celebration we can get a good idea of the evolution of that moment of bliss.
1943 -- Yankees beat Cardinals
The final play is a groundout to second base, but the film doesn’t show the whole aftermath. Needless to say, the celebration was more muted, as it appears the Yankees merely ran off the field and into the clubhouse. The film refers to coach Art Fletcher leading the “singing in the clubhouse victory celebration.” You also see fans -- nearly all adorned in hats, suits or skirts and overcoats -- leaving via exit areas on the field, as was common at many ballparks back then.
1948 -- Indians beat Braves
Random note: After a strikeout, the Braves threw the ball around the infield from the third baseman to the second baseman to the shortstop to the first baseman and back to the catcher. Now that's really throwing the ball around the field. This tradition goes at least into the 1950s (I saw highlights of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella get a return throw as well). Wonder when it stopped?
Anyway, the final out was a fly ball and you see the Cleveland second baseman and shortstop (player-manager Lou Boudreau) shake hands and then hug in the middle of diamond. Pitcher Gene Bearden merely walks off the mound and shakes his catcher’s hand before five or six teammates (those in the game, I believe) finally run up to him near the third-base line, give him some pats on the back and then carry him off the field. You also see all the photographers on the field and a few policemen along the stands, but you don’t see fans running on the field.
1952 -- Yankees beat Dodgers
The Yankees won the seventh game at Ebbets Field and we see Yogi jumping on the back of pitcher Bob Kuzava (the final out was a fly ball, so Kuzava had his back turned away from home plate). A small cadre of teammates join in at the mound, mostly surrounding Kuzava and pounding him on the back and rubbing his head. The celebration ends quickly as the players walk to the clubhouse. You see police in the background, although a few fans run onto the field.
1955 -- Dodgers beat Yankees
There’s a fun clip of Dodgers manager Walter Alston in the cramped clubhouse before the game apparently reading off the lineup to his team, although it’s hard to say if that was just staged. It’s also fun to check in on what fans are wearing. All World Series games were still in the day, so you still see many or most of the men in ties and maybe half wearing their Don Draper hats.
The Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in '55, of course, and you see pitcher Johnny Podres and catcher Campanella both leap into the air. Unfortunately, the video cuts off without seeing the whole celebration, although the voiceover says "teammates and fans" mob the pitcher. There's a great photo here of Podres and Campanella in the background as a few players and fans rush towards the mound. You can see the No. 42 of Jackie Robinson -- who didn't play in the game -- among the players, but from what I could gather, players in the dugout didn't rush the field regularly for another decade or so.
The film also shows Campanella and others in the clubhouse, soaked with some sort of celebratory liquid. Along with the rest of Brooklyn, I would presume.
1960 -- Pirates over Yankees
Bill Mazeroski's famous home run. He was mobbed by teammates and fans at home plate, although it appears as if the Pirates quickly scurried off into the clubhouse.
1962 -- Yankees over Giants
By the way, whoever thought chain-link outfield fences were a good idea? The final out was Willie McCovey’s line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson (with the winning run at second base) and pitcher Ralph Terry tosses his glove into the air, more in relief than celebration. Catcher Elston Howard lifts up Terry and the Yankees surround Richardson in the baseline. A fair number of fans are on the field -- dressed much more casually than even a few years before (maybe a California thing) -- and you see a couple teammates lift Terry onto their shoulders, carrying him toward the clubhouse entrance located down the right-field line.
1965 -- Dodgers over Twins
The film shows the Dodgers playing pepper before Game 7. When was the last time you saw major leaguers doing that? Does anyone younger than 25 even know what pepper is? Then we see Sandy Koufax talking with reporters on the field before the game as several reporters chug away on cigarettes (nothing like inhaling some second-hand smoke to get ready for a Game 7). They also show Koufax and Twins starter Jim Kaat posing together. I wonder when that stopped? We need that again. Hey, Verlander and Zito, come on over here for a few minutes. We need to get your photo together. Smile. There you go. Make some small talk.
A lot of fans (the game was in Minnesota) are wearing what appear to be straw hats. Maybe some sort of promotion or something. You don’t really see much team gear in the stands until the 1980s and even then, nothing like now. OK, Koufax tosses a shutout and strikes out the final batter. He pumps his first and simply starts walking off the field. Catcher Johnny Roseboro doesn’t even greet him until he’s near the foul line and then just merely shakes his hand. Teammates -- again, it appears mostly just those on the field -- greet him, pat him on the back and so on, and a ball boy hands Koufax his jacket and they walk off the field. I guess Koufax pitching a shutout on two days' rest in Game 7 of the World Series wasn't such a big deal.
1967 -- Cardinals over Red Sox
Bob Gibson records the final strikeout and catcher Tim McCarver dashes out to the mound. The players are definitely much more animated, although the whole team still isn’t rushing out from the dugout. Oddity: Third-base umpire Augie Donatelli swipes Julian Javier’s hat off his head as Javier celebrates. He must have said something because Javier turns around and smiles. (Apparently, AP ran a photo the next day of Donatelli carrying two Cardinals caps. Years later, he said, "It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. The one fellow's cap was falling off, and I just kind of grabbed it. And then I reached in and grabbed another."
1968 -- Tigers over Cardinals
Man, the field in St. Louis looks terrible, with patchy, spotty grass. I think the football Cardinals also played at Busch Stadium. The final out is a foul pop out to catcher Bill Freehan along the first-base line. He lifts up pitcher Mickey Lolich and there’s a small celebration, and a couple Tigers sort of jump on the backs of each other.
1969 -- Mets over Orioles
You still saw suits and ties in the stands, although not many hats by now and the suits could just be a New York thing (the crowd in St. Louis the year before looked much more casual). Fly ball to left field, Jerry Koosman leaps into the arms of catcher Jerry Grote. A few Mets players in jackets do run out of the dugout, as does Tom Seaver, so we have clear evidence of players in the dugout rushing on to the field. As fans storm the field, however, the players are quick to get off it.
1971 -- Pirates over Orioles
Note: Pirates play the shift on Boog Powell ... and it worked back then, too!
The final out is a grounder to shortstop and pitcher Steve Blass charges over to first base, jumping and leaping into the arms of first baseman Bob Robertson. We don’t see the whole celebration, however, as the film cuts off right as a couple Pirates were about to join the fray. But we're definitely getting a lot more enthusiasm.
1972 -- A’s over Reds
The first full-scale dugout eruption I see actually occurs in the National League Championship Series. The Reds scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to win the series, with the winning run scoring on a wild pitch. As George Foster crosses home plate, Reds players storm Foster in front of the dugout, celebrating, leaping and so forth (although no pig piling). The funniest sight is Hal McRae, who was batting, jumping up and down several times like he’s on a trampoline.
In the World Series, Pete Rose flies out to Joe Rudi as the A’s win and you definitely see more of the modern-day mob-like celebrations, as the entire team appears to stream out from the dugout.
1975 -- Reds over Red Sox
The Big Red Machine finally wins, but the pseudo-mob scene at the mound dissipates quickly as players rush off to avoid several hundred fans running on to the field.
1977 -- Yankees over Dodgers
Pitcher Mike Torrez catches a bunt for the final out and he celebrates with Thurman Munson, but the players again quickly exit as Yankees fans storm the field. Yes, hard to believe, Yankees fans storming the field in 1977, the year of the famous New York City blackout. I’m pretty sure Munson punched a few of them on his way to the clubhouse.
1980 -- Phillies over Royals
Tug McGraw strikes out Willie Wilson and explodes in triumph, 130-pound Larry Bowa dashes in from shortstop, but the rest of the video cuts off and we mostly just see a bunch of hugging.
1983 -- Orioles over Phillies
Cal Ripken catches a line drive for the final and pitcher Scott McGregor more or less pumps his first and hugs his catcher. Rather subdued and unmemorable. Kind of like that entire World Series.
1984 -- Tigers over Padres
OK, I know I mentioned the 1972 Reds and A’s had players running from the dugout, but this is the first celebration I see where the entire dugout just EXPLODES and rushes the field (the Reds' celebration occured, in part, because Foster crossed home plate right in front of them), delirious in joy, leaping and hugging and mobbing pitcher Willie Hernandez. We’re getting close. Here's the call from the great Ernie Harwell.
1986 -- Mets over Red Sox
And here we go. The first pig pile. Should have known it would be those '86 Mets. The next year, the Twins had a pig pile of their own. It was here to stay.