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With the Giants again in the playoffs, and feeling like they might be ready to create the magic of a pennant-winning run once again, here’s the story of how they won the 1989 pennant. The Chronicle’s Carl Nolte described the key scene in game 5 of the NLCS vs. the Cubs like this:

In the eighth, with two out, Mike Bielecki gave up three walks in a row, and Cubs manager Don Zimmer sent for his ace of aces, Mitch Williams, to face Clark.

“Strength against strength,” Zimmer said.

Williams is a bearded, intense man they started calling “Wild Thing” in honor of the relief pitcher Charlie Sheen played in the movie “”Major League,” except he doesn’t particularly like the nickname any more.

The Candlestick sound system played Williams’ theme at full blast: “Wild Thing/You make my heart sing/You make everything /Groovy.” The 62,084 fans were on their feet, roaring.

But Clark, glowering with lamp black under his eyes to keep the glare down, thought of only one thing. “There were 62,000 fans yelling and screaming, and the only thing I’m worried about was the baseball. I couldn’t even tell you what Williams’ eyes looked like, or if he had a beard.”

Williams threw him five pitches; Clark hit the sixth, two runs scored, the Giants went ahead 3-1.

PANDEMONIUM

There was pandemonium at Candlestick, wild cheering and shouting nearly everywhere in the city. In the ninth, though, the Cubs nearly did it.

It was the reverse of the Giants’ big moment – two out, bases loaded. But this time, Bedrosian, the Giants reliever, got the side out.

In the clubhouse later, soaked with champagne, Clark credited others. “My teammates were great and so were Bay Area fans,” he said.

“We’ve all seen athletes rise to the occasion,” said Craig. “You saw that again today.”

It was a day so special that the two Bay Area scientists who won the Nobel Prize yesterday cut a news conference short to go to the ballgame. It was also the hottest October 9 in 55 years, Columbus Day and Yom Kippur rolled into one. “It was a beautiful ending,” said David Gonsoroski at Gino and Carlo’s bar in North Beach. “The weather cooperated for a Columbus Day win. Hurray for North Beach! Hurray for Columbus!”

When the game ended, all over the city, from the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach, cars honked their horns, firecrackers saved from the Fourth of July for this occasion went off. People gave total strangers high-fives.

The city’s joy was loud enough to hear: It was as if San Francisco itself had roared.

Before that moment, the city had been giving off a metallic hum as thousands of radios and television sets tuned into the game.

108 TELEVISIONS

In the television department of the Emporium on Market Street, 108 television sets were on display, and most of them were tuned to the game, drawing a crowd of 150 people.

“Normally we have the TVs tuned to KQED, the educational station, because we don’t want the subject matter to absorb people,” said salesman Norman Zukowsky. “But today we had to turn on the game to avoid bloodshed.”

In the Financial District, Bill Norris, who makes his living as a panhandler, turned off his transistor radio between innings because the batteries were failing fast and the voice of Giants announcer Ron Fairly, crackling with excitement, was fading away.

“Oh, I’m a big fan,” said Norris, who came to the Bay Area from Illinois, home of the Cubs. “I’m rooting for the Giants now because I live here.” Actually, he lives in an alley off New Montgomery Street.

In other parts of the city, there was a lot of tough talk about what the Giants would do to the A’s, once the World Series starts on Saturday. It will be the first series between teams from the same region since 1956, when the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers.

About 4,000 Giants tickets will go on sale in a phone lottery today.

“I expect to see a lot of brawls in the bars and clubs,” said Aaron De Beers, who works at the Cafe Trieste in North Beach. “It will be fun.”

And here’s some excerpts from Ray Ratto’s story for the Chronicle on the Giants closing out the Cubs in five games with that afternoon game at Candlestick on October 9, 1989:

The Cubs collected 10 hits and 14 baserunners yesterday, but until the ninth inning, all they had was a single, unearned run to show for it. That came in the third, when Jerome Walton hit a line drive into the path between Mitchell’s eyes and the sun in left field for a two-base error. Mitchell was without his sunglasses at the time, but said, “They wouldn’t have done any good anyway; the sun goes right through those things. I just put my glove where I thought the ball was going to be.” Walton then scored on Ryne Sandberg’s double to right.

True to form for the series, though, even that ended badly for the Cubs. Sandberg tried to make it to third, but chopped his steps rounding second and was thrown out by a combination of throws from Pat Sheridan and Robby Thompson.

“That was a big play, no question,” Giants manager Roger Craig said later. “If he’s safe, it’s a man on third with one out, and (Mark) Grace would be coming up soon.”

Reuschel faced other tight scrapes in the [first, with Mark Grace and Jerome Walton on first and third with two out], fourth, sixth and eighth, but escaped each time because of his skill and those of the gentlemen behind him.

In the fourth, he hit Andre Dawson on the wrist with a 1-2 pitch, and Luis Salazar followed with a base hit to right that sent Dawson to third. Shawon Dunston, though, grounded sharply to Thompson, who began the Giants’ seventh double play of the series.

In the sixth, successive singles by Marvell Wynne and a ubiquitous Grace put runners at the corners with one out, but Dawson, who finished the series with two hits in 19 at-bats, flied to right and Salazar grounded gently to Thompson.

In the eighth, Reuschel walked Walton, watched as Sandberg sacrificed him to second – Sandberg’s second sacrifice of the entire season – and walked Grace intentionally with two out to get to Dawson, who bounced back to the box, his eighth failure with men in scoring position in 10 opportunities.

With all those opportunities and all those zeros, the Cubs were probably asking for what they got. And what they got, of course, was Clark.

He started the seventh with a first-pitch triple that headed down the right-field line, ticked off Dawson’s glove and nestled in the corner, enabling a moderately gimpy Clark to lumber to third. “The ball just kept tailing away from him,” Clark said of Dawson. “I was around first, and he hadn’t even gotten to the ball yet to throw it to the cutoff man, so I just kept running.”

Mitchell followed with a one-strike fly ball to deep center, scoring Clark easily and tying the game.

“It really wasn’t even a strike,” Mitchell said, “but in that situation I’m going to be aggressive. They’d been working me away all day, so I had to go out and get one.”

[In the eighth] Candy Maldonado . . . fought the temptation to try to save his entire season with a swing and coaxed 10 pitches and a two-out walk from Bielecki. Then came Butler, who also worked Bielecki to a full count before walking himself.

“I guess I was a little tired,” Bielecki acknowledged. “I wanted to get that last out and take it from there. I tried to reach back, and there was nothing there.”

At that point, Cubs manager Don Zimmer went out to talk to Bielecki and decided to let him pitch to Thompson. “He asked me how I felt, and I told him I could get him out. I missed with the first two pitches, then I just lost it.”

The four-pitch walk loaded the bases for Clark.

Zimmer called for his stopper, Mitch Williams, and everything his fastball would allow.

“I threw him all fastballs except for one,” Williams said. “At 1-2, I threw him a slider, up and in and exactly where I wanted it. It should have struck him out, but he fouled it back. That’s the best pitch I’ve got, and he fouled it off.”

The next pitch was the fastball, and Clark lined it over second base, the perfect end to a near-perfect series.

“I was talking to Mitch (Kevin Mitchell) in the on-deck circle, and he said, “You remember this guy,’ ” Clark said. “I said, “I do,’ and Mitch said, “Go get it done,’ and I said, “It’s done.’ ”

It was Clark’s third hit of the game – the team had just four – and his 13th of the postseason, in 20 at-bats. They were his seventh and eighth RBIs of the series, one short of the N.L. Championship Series record held by teammate Matt Williams. It was the hit of the season, one that Clark greatly merited as the series’ most valuable player.

But not quite the end, because the Cubs didn’t exactly go away. Steve Bedrosian, who replaced Reuschel, nearly pitched the Giants back into trouble because of successive singles by pinch-hitter Curtis Wilkerson, Mitch Webster and Walton, the last of which made it 3-2.

“My arm’s hangin’, man,” said Bedrosian, who gained his third consecutive save in his fourth consecutive appearance. “My fastball didn’t have a lot of giddy-up on it, so when Sandberg came up, I had to change up there. I’d just thrown 10 fastballs in a row, and you can’t do that.”

With the tables neatly turned and Sandberg, who had a moderately spectacular series himself, at the plate, Craig went to the mound to ask Bedrosian what he wanted to do.

“It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said it,” Craig said. “He said, “I want this guy.’ A lot of guys tell you that, but sometimes you can tell what they really want is to be the hell out of there.”

It took one pitch. Sandberg, who hit an even .400 in the series, sent a modest grounder to Thompson, who backed up a bit to make sure he got a proper hop and threw to Clark for the final out, at 2:54 p.m.

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Mitch wasn’t quite a one-year wonder, but at this point it seems like he was, and yes, it was a wonderful 1989 season. Read some of the Chronicle’s game story for a 7-6 win over the Braves in Fulton County Stadium on June 2:

Kevin Mitchell hit the longest ball of the evening, but the biggest run of the Giants’ 7-6 win over Atlanta last night came off a walk.

On a night when balls and fielders were pounding the outfield walls of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, it was Ernest Riles’ bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth that ended up scoring the deciding run in a game that Mitchell seemed to have guaranteed and the Giant bullpen seemed hellbent to return.

Mitchell hit two homers – one coming within 10 feet of being only the 10th ball ever to clear the first deck of the stadium – to steal the show from Rick Reuschel, who won his 10th game of the year; Robby Thompson, who homered and doubled to improve his average to .282, and Riles.

Mitchell doesn’t mess with ground balls. He aims for the stratosphere, sometimes pushing the envelope a bit. His second homer, which followed [Robby] Thompson’s sixth homer of the season and fourth in 11 games, was an enormous thing, one which bounced off the bottom of the auxiliary scoreboard in left and soberly was estimated at 440 feet.

“”That wasn’t my longest,” Mitchell said. “”Nothing was as long as the one I hit against Fernando (Valenzuela on April 12). His (pitch) was a fastball. This was a changeup.”

He did allow, though, that it might have been the longest home run he ever hit off a changeup. The victim was Tom Glavine, who was pounded for six runs in four-plus innings.

“”I love hitting here,” Mitchell raved. “”The ball really carries here. You don’t have to be a strong man to hit a ball out of this yard. If you don’t get out of here with 20 homers a year, you’re not going to hit 20 in any park.”

Mitchell’s season total currently stands at 17, with 51 RBIs.

When Mitchell caught a foul ball bare-handed in late April in St. Louis, it provided what wound up being the enduring highlight of his season, but the Chronicle noted that Willie Mays had done the same in a game against the Pirates: he couldn’t reach across with his glove to snag a hooking line drive, so he reached out and caught the ball with his bare hand.
In the dugout, Mays asked manager Leo Durocher, “Leo, didn’t you see what I did out there?”

“No,” Durocher retorted. “And you’re going to have to do it again before I believe it.”

By the All-Star break, Mitchell had 31 home runs and 81 RBIs through 87 games. That pace didn’t last, but he and Clark were the two star hitters on a Giants team that wasn’t stacked with the level of talent the A’s had.

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I recently interviewed Mike Pagliarulo, starting third baseman for the Yankees from 1985 to mid-1989. The interview was primarily prompted by this picture on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle of him and Rickey Henderson embracing after hearing of Rickey’s trade to the A’s:

I talked with Mike about his response to learning that news, what he thought of the A’s teams of 1988 and 1989, and also his memories of playing against the Giants later in 1989, after he’d been traded to the Padres in July.

Q: To start off, I figured I’d ask if you remember the near-perfect game the A’s threw against the Yankees on May 26 in New York?
A: No, I don’t. What was that?

Q: The one guy to get on was Rickey Henderson, on an infield single, and then the very next hitter, Steve Sax maybe, hit into a double play. That was the only runner of the game.
A: Huh. That’s funny, I don’t know that game at all. We had an injury, someone-Winfield-was out with a bad back in 1989. That year my elbow was a mess. I tried to play, but it wasn’t fully recovered.

Q: What was your response when you learned of Rickey Henderson’s trade to the A’s?
A: In New York, we had all come up with each other in the Yankees’ tremendous minor league system. Played on the same teams, winning teams. And some guys from the organization, they had played with Rickey for 5 years. He was one of the guys, a great teammate, a phenomenal athlete, so it was hard to see people like him go.

Q: I was reading through some articles from the time, where the Yankees management was saying that Rickey’s legs were going, he wasn’t that great a player anymore. He’d been struggling a bit with the Yankees, but did you guys have any sense of him running down?
A: No, I wouldn’t say he was running down. When you play with a good teammate, you never want to see them go, whether they’re going well or not. You rely on each other day and day out, so you never expect someone to be traded. You never think in those terms. Rickey was a real impact player, he helped the whole lineup.

Baseball is the ultimate team game, your teammates affect how you play offense and defense, what kind of pitches you get to hit-look at the Red Sox this year, J.D. Drew batting ahead of Manny Ramirez, and how well he did. There are so many variables, it’s hard to say which one it is that impacts whether you do well.

Q: What was your impression of Greg Cadaret and Eric Plunk? Because when I went through those articles about the trade I saw Cadaret saying that at least in New York he’d still be able to talk about hunting and fishing with Plunk in the bullpen. Were they out of place in the Bronx?
A: [laughs] Well, some players don’t feel very comfortable in New York. It can be a rude awakening for some players, they’re out of place. Some, they adapt, but I was always real comfortable there, didn’t have to get used to New York.

Q: What, for you, were the biggest reasons why the A’s were so good in ’88 and ’89?
A: The A’s, they had those two big guys (McGwire and Canseco) coming up. I was talking to La Russa one day not long after he got hired by the A’s. When was that, 1986 or so? (It was.) And he had a pretty good plan for what to do with the team. They had Ron Hassey, a good friend and teammate with the Yankees.

On the A’s, everyone knew their role, what their job was, and that’s a compliment to La Russa. He ran a pretty tight ship, everyone had a place they fit into, and there was a really good mix of young and old players. Every good team I’ve been on has had that characteristic. It’s a prerequisite for winning. And they had really good coaches.

Lansford, he was a steady, steady, steady player, a real tough out. Stewart, I don’t remember how I did against. But like he was like Clemens: the ultimate challenge for a hitter. You want that so much-that challenge, and the great ones, they’re great challenges. The A’s were very prepared, they always gave their best game.

In ’89, we had a coach, Dallas Green, we went outside the organization to get him, and people said, “this guy’s not a Yankee”-he wasn’t Billy (Martin) or Pinella or Yogi Berra. So it was different: he had some trouble adjusting, it wasn’t easy there.

Q: And then you got traded to the Padres not long after Rickey went to Oakland. What did you remember from playing against the Giants late that year? You guys in San Diego were running right alongside the Giants for the division title.
A: I remember Matt Williams having a great year, and that guy in left field, Mitchell, just everything they had (offensively). You’d look up and boom! there’s the ball flying out of the yard. The Padres had a tremendous team, one of the most talented sets of players I’ve seen. We had Jack Clark, Bip Roberts, Alomar, Santiago, Gwynn, but we were missing one pitcher.

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