Police in riot gear guard the dugouts, preparing for the worst with German shepherds at heel. This is Philadelphia in 1980, after all.
It's the bottom of the ninth. Two strikes. Two out. Bases loaded.
Human rocket Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals hugs the plate, curiously dressed in full powder blue, a color fancied by baseball teams and wedding parties of the era.
His nemesis this evening is Phillies closer Tug McGraw, whose fame will later be shadowed by that of his son, country singer Tim McGraw. The screwball artist fires a pitch letter-high, but Wilson can only flail. Kansas City's insurgency is repelled. The Phillies win their first World Series since forming during the Chester A. Arthur presidency.
A record 54 million people tune into the game that night. It will be perhaps the last time baseball can legitimately call itself America's national pastime.
This story was reprinted with permission of Voice Media Group in this week's issue. Click here to continue reading.