(This story was first published on October 22, 1980.)
It seemed altogether fitting on the final night of the grand adventure - as the police dogs and the horse soldiers pranced in the background - that the two guys whose left arms had lifted th Phillies away from the gravitational pull of history would be out there one more time, reprising their disparate acts, flawlessly.
Leading 3-2 in the longest World Series in which the Phillies had ever participated, Dallas Green handed the baseball to Steve Carlton. Lefty returned it after seven powerful innings, along with a 4-0 lead and two baserunners who represented the only beachhead the Royals had managed to that point.
Later, wishing to congratulate this man, who surely will be remembered as the finest starting pitcher 1980 offered, Green had to force a path through the pockets of celebration and interviews before finally arriving at the gates of the Phillies' valhalla.
Entering the trainers' room, which is off-limits to civilians, Dallas Green found Steve Carlton as he knew he would. The two embraced and exchanged pleasantries while reporters peered through small panes of glass in the doors, the only available windows to Steve Carlton's special world.
What Carlton began last night, Tug McGraw finished. In his own good time, bringing his manager, his teammates, his chosen city in after a roller-coaster of a ride through the final two innings.
"With all those people watching on television, I hate to make the game boring," said Tug, who seldom disappoints anyone. Bases-loaded situations in both the eighth and ninth innings last night helped preserve this image.
"The eighth inning was fun," he later recalled, "but my arm was so tired in the ninth all I wanted was for the Royals to please hit the ball at one of our guys. I could see the security people lining up, all the animals behind home plate. Tired as I felt, I wasn't about to go to the dogs. "
Dallas Green did not have to hunt for Tug McGraw on the night that the World Series championship came to Philadelphia because Tug, as always, seemed to be everywhere. "I'm not very good at making concise statements," Tug said to those reporters who had opted for the mass interview area, "but I think this is the proudest I'll ever be as a baseball player. It took us a few months under Dallas Green to catch on to what he was saying, but then we got the program together. To me, Dallas is one helluva man.
"Now if you'll excuse me," Tug McGraw added, "I need to go back to the clubhouse, where there's more champagne. "
But the Tugger was to be interviewed in the hallways, and the doorways, and in the manager's office, and on the way to the trainers' room, where he spent several minutes exchanging compliments with Steve Carlton and others who chose to lift their bottles within that sanctuary. From what little can be gleaned from his post-championship performance, Carlton - a professed connoisseur of the grape - seemed pleased by the results of the evening. I mean, fine wines seldom come in half-gallons.
As the doors to the trainers' room swung open again and Tug re-emerged to resume his exchange with the media, the wear finally was beginning to show. The words, which have flowed like the pitches during these hyper-active days of September and October, slowed.
"I've been asked so any times already to compare this with the Mets' victory in the Series," he said. "It's difficult to look back and make judgments right now But I do know that New York had had a lot of championships.
"I live in Philadelphia now, and after six years of being here I think I've been able to get the feeling of the frustration this city has experienced. It's a very heartfelt thing for me to be part of the team that broke through after 97 years. I get the feeling that W.C. Fields is out of his grave tonight, celebrating with us. I got to believe that Benjamin Franklin turns over for this. "
As Tug McGraw addressed his considerable audience, Steve Carlton continued to receive preferred guests in the trainers' room. Ruly Carpenter was one of those who called. Tim McCarver, Carlton's interpreter during earlier years, was hugged. Others from the front office were awarded handshakes. Teammates also dropped by occasionally, sharing bottles along with their thoughts.
"The ninth inning tonight might be the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with," Tug McGraw was saying outside the door. "I've been in a couple of games before which I'd rate as '10s', but with the crowd and the situation being what it was, this one might have gone over the hump to an '11'.
"I can remember seeing the dogs behind home plate and thinking, 'What I need out of this is one more K.' But my arm was so tired. And then Pete (Rose) caught that ball off Boonie's glove, and all I could think was, 'God, there's one more pitch I don't have to make. ' It became, at the end, a matter of not throwing a klutz pitch. I'm exhausted, physically, mentally. I can't even think of anything clever to say. "
Seated on a table in the trainers' room, while media people from across the land kept a vigil which promised to continue into the early morning hours, Steve Carlton said nothing, whether he could think of it or not.
Outside, where the real world was working off this special moment in the history of a city, serenity was not the order of the hour. There were attempts at one point to requisition the press elevator at the same time for both the first level and the sixth. "I've got a heart attack upstairs," one guy explained.
"I've got a guy downstairs who fell out of the stands and busted his neck, " said another. And so on.
Meanwhile, in the Phillies locker room a reporter from a New York newspaper forced his way through the congestion until he reached the area where Mike Schmidt, the MVP of this Series which belongs to Philadelphia, was entertaining. The man delivered to Schmidt a basket of fruit and candies, then whispered in Mike's ear.
"You're kidding," Mike Schmidt said.
The basket had been sent by George Brett. "George said to tell you it will help your hemorrhoids," the guy pointed out.
Thinking back over the moment now, that statement was - in the context of this lovely, slightly daffy, irreplaceable moment in Philadelphia's history - the end.