Soaked field fears prove to be all wet Hovering helicopters dry out drenched outfield

NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium was a virtual lake Saturday evening, water pouring into the dugouts. There was flooding throughout the entire area, and the forecast was for more rain, all day yesterday. New York manager Joe Torre admitted he thought there was no chance Game 1 would be played last night.

But the hard rain stopped overnight, and sun even peeked through the clouds for more than an hour yesterday morning. At about 11 a.m., two police helicopters flew into Yankee Stadium and hovered over the field, drying out the drenched outfield. The same antidote was used at the 1962 World Series, and at the 1975 World Series, in Boston.


The field still had wet spots last night, but in general, Torre said, it was in pretty good shape. "It's remarkable what they've done with this field," Torre said. "I put my hand down on the grass and it wasn't even wet."

There had been some talk that Major League Baseball would postpone last night's game, at the soonest possible opportunity, in deference to the Fox TV Network, and then start the World Series tomorrow -- which would allow Fox to avoid a head-to-head matchup with "Monday Night Football."


Game 2 might've been Wednesday, with Thursday a day off; that way, Fox could have avoided going against NBC's Thursday night lineup.

Strawberry is go despite toe

Torre didn't decide until yesterday afternoon to start Darryl Strawberry, who has a broken right big toe. "The trainer told me today he's ready to go," said Torre. "I talked to Darryl, I went out and walked in left field myself. Plus, Darryl feels better and I watched him take fly balls. So, we'll let it fly."

Strawberry showed surprising speed in the outfield and on the bases before Tim Raines replaced him in the seventh inning.

Short night

Andy Pettitte's 2 1/3 -inning performance was the shortest by a Yankees starter in the World Series since Dave Righetti lasted just two-plus innings on Oct. 23, 1981. That stat is a little deceptive, however, since that would be only four World Series games ago for the Yankees.

Oddly enough, it was also the shortest start in the World Series since John Smoltz lasted 2 1/3 last year in Game 3 against Cleveland.

'Bon Jovi' of Braves


Mike Bielecki, the Dundalk native who had retired from baseball, showed up in the Braves training camp riding a motorcycle, with long hair and a beard. The Braves asked him to throw, he looked good, and they signed him.

"We called him Bon Jovi because of his hair," pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "It fits him."

Bielecki has turned out to be an important part of the Atlanta bullpen, pitching in 40 games and accumulating a 2.63 ERA.

Bad kid stuff

Jeffrey Maier, the 12-year-old fan who helped the Yankees win Game 1 of the ALCS, was not at the World Series opener.

"We're going to watch the game as a family and pull for the Yankees," said his father, Richard Maier.


Good kid stuff

Braves manager Bobby Cox said he had no regrets starting youngsters Jermaine Dye and Andruw Jones in the outfield.

"We're very much better off with Andruw Jones out there," Cox said before Game 1. "Our outfield, with Dye, Marquis Grissom and Jones is hard to beat."

His words proved prophetic when Jones became only the second player to homer in his first two World Series at-bats.

By doing so, Jones became the youngest player to homer in a World Series. Jones is 19 years, 6 months old. Mickey Mantle, who was 20 years, 11 months old when he hit his first Series homer in Game 6 of 1952 against Brooklyn, held the previous record.

Taking World by storm


By homering in his first World Series at-bat, Jones joined a list of 25 players including former Orioles Brooks Robinson (1966), Don Buford (1969), Doug DeCinces (1979) and Jim Dwyer (1983).

The only other player to homer in his first two Series at-bats was Oakland's Gene Tenace against Cincinnati in Game 1 in 1972.

Sounds of silence

Anthem wars continue here.

New York owner George Steinbrenner already insisted that Robert Merrill sing before Game 1 and vetoed Placido Domingo from singing before Game 2.

Paul Simon had been lined up to sing the anthem by Fox Sports, which is televising the Series for the first time. Steinbrenner vetoed Simon, according to a Fox official who spoke on the condition he not be identified.


Cox sees NL edge

Cox says the National League has a major advantage when pitchers are required to hit, in the NL cities. "You can practice [in the AL]," said Cox, "but you don't get to hit, don't get to bunt, you don't get to do anything. I hope whenever we get this labor agreement, they make it [uniform]."

Around the horn

The Braves became the first team in 14 years to start two rookies in the outfield for a World Series game. The last time it happened was Oct. 17, 1982, when St. Louis started rookies David Green in left and Willie McGee in center. Mazzone, who resides in Cumberland during the off-season, grew up in West Virginia as a Yankees fan, listening to Mel Allen, and he made a point of walking around the Yankee Stadium outfield. "I wanted ZTC to walk out there," Mazzone said, "where Mantle walked. I've been eager to see it all, the monuments, the history." Because of flooding in the area, those departing Yankee Stadium after Saturday's workout had difficulty getting home. "We're just fortunate that nobody got hurt," said Torre. Mazzone downplayed the difference in the strike zones called by the American League and National League umpires. "Last year, when we played in Cleveland," he said, "there wasn't a noticeable difference."

Pub Date: 10/21/96