1987 Rewind: World Series Game Seven


Date:  Sunday, October 25.

Batting stars:  Tim Laudner was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

Pitching stars:  Frank Viola pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.  Jeff Reardon pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Tony Pena was 2-for-3 with a double, a stolen base, and an RBI.  Todd Worrell pitched three innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts.  Steve Lake was 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The game:  St. Louis took the lead in the second inning.  They opened the inning with consecutive singles by Jim Lindeman, Willie McGee, and Pena to take a 1-0 lead.  The next two batters were retired, but Lake came through with an RBI single to make it 2-0 Cardinals.  That was all St. Louis would get, as Viola retired the next eleven batters and would give up only two more hits over the next six innings.

The Twins got one of the runs back in the bottom of the second.  Don Baylor was hit by a pitch and Tom Brunansky singled.  With one out, Laudner singled, but Baylor was thrown out at the plate.  Steve Lombardozzi followed with another single to make it 2-1.

It stayed 2-1 until the fifth.  With one out, Greg Gagne got an infield single.  It was the first hit the Twins had gotten since the second inning, but Whitey Herzog pulled starter Joe Magrane in favor of Danny Cox, who had started Game Five.  It didn't work, as Puckett drove his first pitch into deep left-center for a double, scoring Gagne and tying the game.  The Twins ran themselves out of a bigger inning.  Gary Gaetti walked, but Puckett was thrown out at third on the front end of a double steal and Gaetti was thrown out at home trying to score on a Baylor single.  Still, the score was tied after five innings.

The Twins took the lead in the sixth.  Cox opened the inning with walks to Brunansky and Kent Hrbek and was removed for Todd Worrell.  With one out, Worrell walked Roy Smalley to load the bases.  Dan Gladden struck out, but Gagne got another infield single, scoring Brunansky with the go-ahead run.  The Twins got an insurance run in the eighth, as Laudner got a one-out single and scored from first on Gladden's two-out double.  Reardon came in to pitch the ninth and retired Tom Herr on a fly to center, Curt Ford on a popup to third, and Willie McGee on a grounder to third to win the game and give the Twins their first World Championship.

Notes:  The quick hook for Magrane appears to have been based solely on the fact that he was a rookie.  He was pitching well at the time, and appears to have been the Cardinals best starting pitcher in 1987 (best ERA, best WHIP, best FIP, most strikeouts per nine innings).  Bringing in Cox, who was pitching on two days' rest, had not pitched in relief all year, and had a WHIP of 1.48 in 1987, does not appear to have been a smart decision...This was the only start of the postseason for Steve Lake.  Tony Pena, the regular St. Louis catcher, was used as the DH...I remember thinking at the time that I would have left Viola in to pitch the ninth.  He had thrown 105 pitches, which was not considered as high a total then as it is now, and was pitching well.  I couldn't argue with the results, however...Reardon had an excellent World Series, pitching 4.2 innings over four games and giving up no runs on five hits and no walks with three strikeouts...Puckett batted .357/.419/.464 for the World Series...Baylor batted .385/.467/.615 in fifteen plate appearances...Tim Laudner batted .318/.444/.500...Lombardozzi batted .412/.474/.647 in nineteen plate appearances.

Record:  The Twins won the best-of- seven series 4-3.


17 thoughts on “1987 Rewind: World Series Game Seven”

  1. How important was Don Baylor? He did nothing in September but man without him they maybe don't win the World Series.

    1. Across 5 games and 15 PA Baylor hit .385/.467/.615. Among Twins with a comparable number of PA, only Lombo (.412/.474/.647 in 17 PA) had a better World Series. Laudner was right behind Baylor at .318/.444/.500 in 22 PA. Without those three it's a very different World Series.

      One significant advantage to having Baylor available as DH was additional bench depth, as Smalley was available to pinch-hit from either side.

      1. True, though Smalley was pretty terrible against lefties, both this year and his career.

        1. It seems that Andy MacPhail had identified the need for a player like Baylor even before the season, when there were reports that the Twins were trying to acquire Jose Cruz from Houston, with Smalley possibly headed back to Chicago due to "provisions of the deal that brought Smalley to the Twins in 1985." I hadn't heard of any provisions before, so I poked around. This Sun-Sentinel piece from March '88 gave me the answer:

          SARASOTA -- Roy Smalley's locker sits by itself in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. The stall previously belonged to a clubhouse man.

          "I feel like I'm in quarantine," Smalley said. "None of the people but (General Manager) Larry Himes knew I was coming here until my equipment showed up, and they had to kick out a clubhouse guy to put my stuff in."

          Smalley was traded from the White Sox to Minnesota in 1985, but a clause allowed the Twins to return Smalley to Chicago before March 1 of each season if they desired. Minnesota exercised the clause this year, sending Smalley back to the White Sox in February.

          I had always thought Smalley had voluntarily retired after the World Series (and his return to Chicago isn't listed in his transactions on b-ref). Apparently he was planning to play a few more seasons:

          "[1987] was fun, a dream-type season," he said. "[The Twins] are going to send my ring to me. I think they're having a special ceremony at the home opener. I might request the day off and go up there to be a part of it. The Yankees open in New York against Minnesota. If I'm there, maybe I'll have somebody bring me my ring.

          "For 13 years, I worked for it, and it happened. I'm toward the end. I have a couple seasons left. I'd like to go for it again.

          "Have bat, will travel. That`s me. I just want to know where to travel to."

          1. So what happened? They decided not to play him in 88 and refused to or found no trading partners? Sounds like they still had to pay him for 2 years.

            1. I'm not sure. I found an article in a newspaper database covering Smalley's retirement announcement, which happened at the Metrodome on 10 April 1988. That was an off day for the Twins. Unfortunately, the article didn't explain how Smalley had made his way back to the Twins or where he'd been before deciding to hang 'em up.

          2. From the Feb. 6, 1988 STrib:

            Roy Smalley is on the move again, and Don Baylor is gone.

            A well-placed source in the Yankees' front office* confirmed Friday that Smalley would return to New York via Chicago** in a deal that will be announced early next week.***

            White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner agreed on the trade late yesterday after more than 10 days off negotiations. Reinsdorf said he had been trying to peddle Smalley after it became clear that the Twins would exercise their option and return [him] to Chicago. As part of the 1985 trade with the White Sox, the Twins had the option of returning Smalley by March 1 every year.

            The Twins kept Smalley last season when Chicago agreed to pay $400,000 of his $700,000 salary.


            Considering the size of Smalley's contract, there was little chance he would end up with the Twins it stay in Chicago. Smalley's guaranteed contract is worth $700,000 in 1988 and $700,000 in 1989 with a $200,000 buyout in 1990....

            Later in the article, it said the Twins wouldn't offer Baylor a two-year deal, and were considering Ron Kittle, Mike Easier, and Steve Balboni as potential replacements.

            *Steinbrenner though Sid?
            **Great song
            ***That "deal" fell apart and Smalley was stuck with the White Sox, who didn't want him, throughout spring training

            1. Heh, on April 8, 1988, Sid noted that Smalley officially retired after being released by the White Sox.

              The lede in his ramblings was that Carl Pohlad was exploring sites in Bloomington and Eden Prairie for an outdoor stadium. Target Field is older today than the Dome was at that point. Also I had no idea that Jerry Bell's job, before becoming Twins president, was

              'Spoiler' SelectShow
              1. 'Bell' SelectShow

                I'm really glad the Twins didn't build a ballpark before they finally did, even if that meant Pohlad's self-imposed earth-salting of the late-1990s and division champs that were short a piece or two because of Pohladian parsimony. The idea of the Twins playing in a New Comiskey-era ballpark is depressing, and I'm glad they avoided the Camden look of the proposed retractable roof ballpark down by the river.

            2. Great find, Pirate. That answers two questions – the one about Smalley, and a wonder I had about Baylor. I didn't figure the Twins had been too interested in keeping him around (39 in those days isn't 39 these days, it seems). It looks like he ultimately signed a one year deal with Oakland, which also had 37 year old Dave Parker in the mix.

              It's too bad the Twins couldn't land a better second baseman for '88. A decent DH would've been a nice luxury, but with Bush and Larkin in the mix, that would've been a stretch run piece in my mind.

  2. Whole Game:

    Kirby's double:

    Gaetti vs Lake:

    Herr caught stealing (another Hrbek controversy at first):

    Gagne's second single:

    Final out:

    Sweet Music named World Series MVP:

    1. Possibly one reason interference was not called on Hrbek is that Herr clearly reached out to make contact with him. Herr was pretty obviously safe, though. On the other hand, if there had to be a bad call, there's no one better to have it come against than Tom Herr.

      1. Or Ron Gant, I guess.

        Thoroughly enjoyed the season rewind. I seem to remember that Mrs. Runner and I celebrated Game 7. I brought in a case of Twinkies to work the next day, too.

  3. Thanks for doing this rewind, Chaps. A ton of work clearly goes into researching & writing them. It was fun coming to read the how things unfolded every day, in part because I was actually around for this one.

      1. Thanks to both of you. In some ways, this was more fun that the 1965 series, simply because there were people who could remember this one and who shared memories. I'm probably the only one here who remembers 1965, and I really don't remember that much about it. God willing, we'll pick another memorable season next year and do it again.

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