The Date: October 21, 1987
The Setting: Game 4 of the 1987 World Series, Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
The Pitcher: Minnesota Twins ace Frank Viola
The Batter: St. Louis Cardinals utility man (and starting second baseman for the All-Randy McCament Baseball Card Team) Tom Lawless
What you just saw was a three-run home run which broke a 1-1 tie and propelled the Cardinals to a 7-2 win and evened up the Series at 2-2. Of course it helps that Lawless is wearing my favorite uniform, while standing on baseball’s biggest stage, but this has to be included in the all-time rankings of best bat-flips. (And let me say, I’ve done exhaustive research and have concluded that “power rankings” are the exact same damn things as “rankings.” I don’t know who felt the need to sneak in “power” and why everyone blindly followed suit but I’ve had it with this overwrought “power rankings” garbage. I’m sticking with rankings.)
The baseball curmudgeons, our friends of baseball’s unwritten rules, who like to give Fernando Rodney’s slightly crooked hat the stink-eye don’t really offend me. However, they have the “Act like you’ve done it before!” mantra when it comes to bat-flips completely backwards. Take Lawless here. Nothing says “I HAVE done this before” like a slow strut down to first base while simultaneously admiring the ball you just sent into orbit and on your twelfth step flipping your bat to the heavens and then commencing a light jog around the bases – all tinged with a little bit of totally-justified swagger. It’s so beautiful, and I’m not the first to give it its just due.
Furthermore, Lawless had done it before. Once, in fact. On April 4, 1984, while a member of the Cincinnati Reds, Lawless took Atlanta Braves starting pitcher, and future-teammate, Ken Dayley, deep into the seats at old Fulton County Stadium. More than four years would pass before Lawless would hit his second (and last) regular season home run when on August 28, 1988, while still wearing the birds on the bat, he got the best of Tom Browning in the 5th inning of an afternoon game vs. the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. Video of this home run is hard to come by, but in my heart of hearts I know that Lawless’ bat hasn’t landed yet, for this was revenge against the team that had the gall to trade him in 1984 to the Montreal Expos for some non-bat-flipper named Pete Rose.
Regardless, video proof of his 1987 World Series blast is all we really need. So take a bow, Tom. There have been players who have flipped more bats than you, but I say no one has flipped it better than you.Next post: The Best Baseball Research of the Past Year
Previous post: Murphy and Flores and Tejada, Oh My! The Mets’ Middle Infield Conundrum