It’s fine that Chris Chambliss is mostly remembered for one homer, as it was a magnificent blast.
Chambliss’ round-tripper, off Mark Littell in the 1976 ALCS, propelled the Yankees to the World Series for the first time since 1964: an eternity for a possible championship for the 27-time titlists.
Of course, the Big Red Machine flattened the Bombers in that series, 4-0, but it wasn’t because of Chambliss, who hit .313. The Yankees rebounded, as they have throughout their marvelous history, to win the next two World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cleveland Indians product, now the hitting instructor for the Seattle Mariners, was one in a long line of cool and classy pros to don the Pinstripes; a real clutch performer. He hit an ALCS record .524 with 2 home runs and eight RBI in ’76, an amazing series from the unflappable first baseman. It’s great to see his homer played over and over on the YES Network, still spine-tingling, in fact.
The ALCS is where the ex-Rookie of the Year, especially made his mark, hitting .340 with two homers and 10 RBI in three trips to that stage. Chambliss hurt his overall postseason batting average (.275) by getting just two hits in his last 21 postseason at-bats, split between the Yankees and Braves. That seems picky, however, compared to the six championships as a player-coach the smooth and steady one-time Gold Glover walked away from New York with.
Funny, that while Chambliss, who came to the Bronx in a theft of a trade from the Tribe, played the same number of seasons (seven) in Atlanta, it seems much easier to recall his days as a Yank. Perhaps that was because of his presence and THAT homer, which even earned him the respect of one Mr. October, Reggie Jackson who called him “Mr. Chambliss” during an interview.
Chambliss, 62, who wrapped his playing career with 185 homers and 972 RBI, could also be called “Skipper” some day as he has successful stints as a minor league manager on his resume, with an honor from the Sporting News for his work. It would be tough to see him in an opposing dugout if the first “CC” doesn’t return to the Yanks fold in the near future.
But, at least we’ll always have THAT homer.