The New York Yankees Wayback Machine is set this week for 1978. It was a year that saw the Yankees overcome a 14 1/2 game deficit, dispose of the Boston RedSox in a one game playoff, and come back from a two games to none hole to beat the Dodgers in the World Series.
It was also a year that saw manager Billy Martin resign. He cited health reasons for his departure. But many speculate that it was due to his constant battles with Reggie Jackson. Just the previous year, Martin had replaced Jackson in the middle of an inning with Paul Blair. He had not been pleased with Jackson´s effort. This had prompted a near fist fight in the Yankees dugout between the two.
And toward the middle of the 1978 season, reports surfaced of more anger between them. And Martin wanted fans to know that his resignation was not because of his differences with owner George Steinbrenner.
“I owe it to my health and mental well-being to resign at this time, and I am very sorry that there were things written about George Steinbrenner. He did not deserve them, nor did I say them. George and I have had our differences, and in most cases we have been able to resolve them, Martin said according to The Baseball Almanac.
And so began one of the greatest comebacks in Major League Baseball history. Under a calm and tranquil Bob Lemon, the Yankees tore through the American League East. The season finished with the Yankees and Red Sox tied for first place. In the one-game playoff, Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage stymied Boston, and Bucky Dent hit his unforgettable three-run home run as the Yankees won 5-4.
¨When I hit the ball, Dent said according to Thinkexist.com, ¨I knew I had hit it high enough to reach the wall. But there were shadows on the net behind the wall and I didn´t see the ball land there. I didn´t know I had hit a homer until I saw the umpire at first signaling home run with his hand. I couldn´t believe it.¨
And Dent´s heroic postseason didn´t stop there. He went on to hit .417 in the World Series against the Dodgers to win the series MVP. He also received The Babe Ruth Award, given to the player with the top performance in the postseason.
But Dent wasn´t the only one to take home hardware. Guidry finished at 25-3, earning him both the Cy Young Award and The Associated Press Athlete Of The Year Award. With a slider that darted away from batters like a bolt of lightning, he set the Yankees single-season strike out record with 248.
And what a Yankee lineup it was. Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, Bucky Dent, Graig Nettles, Lou Piniella, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson and of course, the great Thurman Munson. Chambliss and Nettles won Gold Gloves. Randolph led the team in stolen bases with 36. Long- time Yankee favorite Roy White was still with the club, as well.
On the mound, in addition to Guidry, the Yanks had Gossage, who won the Rolaids Relief Award with 27 saves, Ed Figueroa, who won 20 games, and Catfish Hunter, one of Steinbrenner´s prize acquisitions.
They were down by 14 1/2, they were down 2-0 to the Dodgers, and ¨Holy Cow! They did it.¨