Granted, I was 11 years old in 1984, but I thought I remembered most of the important stuff that happened that year. I did not remember this:
This video has it all. It’s got Harry in his prime and he’s caught in mid-sentence bragging about his White House connections (and pretending he doesn’t have any).
Then Ron Cey hits what looks like a pretty obvious foul ball, but third base umpire Steve Ripley calls it a home run.
The Reds lose their shit, especially Mario Soto.
Then, the umpires confer and crew chief and home plate umpire Bob Engel reverses the call, and the Cubs REALLY lose their shit, especially Don Zimmer. Zimmer rants and stomps and appears to nearly pass out at one point.
Then Jim Frey and his weird glasses wander out onto the field and the discussion goes…on…forever.
Until suddenly Mario Soto goes nuts again, charges the umps, and another Reds player tries to tackle him to keep him from dry humping an umpire, and they both end up crashing into Zimmer who goes down in a heap very much reminiscent of the night Pedro Martinez ole’d him to the ground in Fenway many years later.
This starts an actual fight, which Harry thoroughly enjoys, and showing what a true pro he was, he uses the fight as a way to promote the game the next day, at 1:20 p.m. with “good seats still available.”
Fights actually break out twice, the second one is much better than the first. It’s the one started by Soto chasing after the umpires.
In that second fight, guys are rolling around on the ground, Richie Hebner is looking to jack some fools, and Jody Davis ends up rolling around on the grass holding his knee.
At no point does Steve Stone discuss the visibility, which really, seems like a lost opportunity.
And if you thought Cubs fans throwing shit on the field when there’s a bad call (or a perceived bad call) was a new phenomenon. Sadly, it’s not.
At one point, early in the first fight Mel Hall (yes, this is pre-Sutcliffe trade) grabs Frey and carries him away from the fight. If Mel knew what Frey was going to do to him, he’d have turned and thrown him into the dugout, on his head. Hell, if he’d done that, the Cubs may have won the pennant.
The absolute highlight of the whole thing though involves Billy Connors, the Cubs pitching coach.
1. For the only time ever, we see him with an actual jersey on, not that puffy blue pullover.
2. Much to Harry’s delight, Billy’s pants fall down.
The delay went on so long that Cubs starter Dennis Eckersley goes into the clubhouse to, as Stone says, “warm up.” Knowing what we know of Dennis back then, warming up was a six pack, at least.
On his way off the field after the second fight, a fan throws a beer on Mario Soto, and Soto does the Jorge Soler and tries to attack the fan with a bat.
I’m amazed despite all of this we didn’t get even one, “You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark” out of Harry.
There’s a very odd sequence where Engel is on the phone in the Cubs dugout, and they show Dallas Green up in the “skybox” also talking on the phone. I’m sure they’re just discussing what an asshole Mario Soto is.
Once the action resumes, Cey lines out to shortstop, then yells at the umpires for taking his precious three run homer away.
It gets even better.
In the bottom of the third, who is in the Cubs booth, but a fan who caught the foul-ball-home-run. He immediately cops to the fact that it, “was foul by about five feet.”
They also show a foul ball down the right field line, by about thirty feet and the fans boo and give the home run sign. Cubs fans are the best. (And the worst.)
To top it all off…it’s floppy hat day! Could things get any better?