They hadn’t won a World Series since 1962. Fifteen years may not have seemed like such a long time to fans of the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs, but for New York Yankees fans, it had been an interminable wait.
One out away from capturing the 1977 World Series, they were primed to party. Some were primed to punch and plunder.
Now, one prized possession from the utter madness that descended upon Yankee Stadium one memorable October night 41 years ago is about to be sold by SCP Auctions.
And boy, does it have a story to tell.
Yankees fan Andy Kane, a 27-year-old lineman for a utility company in Pearl River, NY, had been sitting in the upper deck that night. He’d watched Reggie Jackson belt three home runs, delivering the goods George Steinbrenner had promised when he signed the brash outfielder to a free agent deal.
When Mike Torrez began mowing through the Dodgers in the ninth inning, Kane had already moved into position near the top of the outfield wall. A few thousand other fans, it turned out, had the same idea.
When Lee Lacy popped out to hand the Yanks the title, Kane and a friend hurdled the fence and jumped onto the field, past Jackson, who had begun a mad dash to the safety of the clubhouse, bowling over patrons who stood in his way. Fans were coming from all directions, moving through an overwhelmed security force. Cops with billy clubs could reach some, but not all.
Kane sprinted toward his target—the second base bag. Another fan was trying to extract it from its post but a police officer grabbed him.
“I tackled them both and ran like a madman for right field,” he told the Journal-News of Rockland County, which featured his caper in the pages of its ‘People’ section two days later.
“The guy I took the bag from ran after me and said he wanted to split it,” Kane said. “I said no way, and he said he was going to take my eye out.”
He escaped to the right field wall as the crowd swarmed the field and went wild in the stands above.
“Cops were swinging their sticks at me and I used the base as protection.”
Welcome to the Bronx, 1977-style.
Fortunately, a friendly officer helped him get out of the park. His caper took just a couple of minutes.
The top of the base has been hand painted and an inscription has been engraved into the bottom, which retains the original mounting post. There’s also a label from the manufacturer, Sportsways, on the bottom surface.
Kane told the paper in that 1977 story that he was hoping to present it to Jackson or turn it back over to the team but neither apparently was interested. He then gave it away.
Forty-one years and six Yankee championships later, it’s now a collector’s item and according to the auction company, could be one of the most valuable bases ever sold, possibly bringing $50,000 or more. A short chain of ownership and the newspaper’s coverage at the time has provided virtually airtight provenance. The base will be part of a large catalog auction set to begin July 25 and close on August 11 at SCPAuctions.com.
Just don’t try grabbing a base from this year’s clinching game. You’ll probably be the only fan on the field and the police won’t be far behind.