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Kevin Foote: Ron Guidry Blog – Local Cy Young winner tells more stories of 1978 season

Kevin Foote • kfoote@theadvertiser.com • July 15, 2008

The feature column in today’s paper was over 50 inches long and I still couldn’t get in so many of the great stories that Ron Guidry revealed in our lengthy interview.

So I figured I’d touch on a few of them online in this blog.

The first one that sticks out in my mind is the morning of the infamous 1978 special playoff game at Fenway Park against Boston for the right to play the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS that year.

The story sort of begins the night before in Cleveland. After losing that game to create a playoff game in Fenway, crazy Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was in the team parking lot after the game ranting and raving about being one loss from the season being over.

Guidry said he told Steinbrenner that, ‘I’ll get the ball and we’ll take care of it.’

Then the next morning, Guidry said he woke up at 8 a.m. and went to the ballpark early instead of just staying in his hotel room. Arriving at Fenway Park at about 9 a.m., Guidry said he told longtime Yankee trainer Gene Monahan that he was going to take a nap and not to let anyone, even if it was Steinbrenner, disturb him.

Guidry said the training table at Fenway was extra long compared to most stadium, so Monahan put a long sheet around the table that reached the floor. Guidry made a pillow out of some towels and laid underneath the training table for the next three years.

During that period, players and coaches came in and out of the room. Most of what they said, Guidry heard, saying he was in that state of relaxation, but where you can hear what’s going on around you for much of the time.

He even heard Steinbrenner himself barge in looking for “Gator, so he can tell him how important the game was,’’ (like he wasn’t aware of it already). Monahan told Steinbrenner that the last time he saw Guidry, he was taking a walk up the rightfield line.

At noon, Monahan woke up Guidry and the two told those on hand the story to a tickled bunch of teammates.

Guidry also told a story about gaining respect from embattled manager Billy Martin. After getting pulled with the lead several times by Martin, catcher Thurman Munson beat Martin to the hill on this occasion and quickly told Guidry that if he doesn’t tell Martin something that the manager is never going to respect him and therefore give him the benefit of the doubt.

Martin gets to the mound and asks Guidry what he thought. Guidry asked Martin if he really wanted him to tell him what he thought. When the answer was yes, Guidry told Martin “to get off my (blankety-blank) mound, so I can finish my game.’’

Martin did so and respected Guidry’s opinion thereafter.

Perhaps the outright funniest story (that was told on the record anyway) involving centerfielder Mickey Rivers and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Goose Gossage.

Gossage had just gotten to New York in 1978 and didn’t endear himself to Guidry by blowing several potential wins for the left-hander early in the season.

There later came a game when Rivers jumped on top of the golf cart that used to carry the pitchers to the mound from the outfield bullpen in a funny, half-serious way of trying to keep Gossage from ruining another game.
One can only imagine all the stories that players would never say on the record about a team with the characters the 1978 Yankees had.

Athletic Network footnote: For more information on Ron Guidry click http://www.athleticnetwork.net/site.php?pageID=55&profID=181  and  http://www.athleticnetwork.net/site.php?pageID=37&newsID=6383