On October 20, 1972 – At Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Game 5 of the World Series, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds hits a home run on the first pitch of the game off Catfish Hunter as Cincinnati beats the Oakland Athletics, 5 – 4.
Up three games to one and with ace Catfish Hunter on the mound, the A’s looked poised to close out Cincinnati. Compounding problems for the Reds, their ace pitcher Gary Nolan, who had been battling shoulder and neck issues during the second half of the regular season, was unable to pitch Game 5, forcing part-time starter Jim McGlothlin to start instead. But two of the struggling Reds, Rose and Joe Morgan who were a combined 1 for 28 at the plate in the first four games, stepped up to make key plays. Rose led off the game with a home run, and he would also drive in the game-winning run in the ninth inning. The game ended dramatically when Morgan threw out the potential game-tying run at the plate as the Reds staved off elimination.
Trailing 1–0 in the second, Gene Tenace hit his fourth home run of the series, a three-run shot, to put Oakland up by two. McGlothlin was removed after pitching just three innings. The Reds cut the lead to 3–2 in the fourth on a home run by Denis Menke. Ángel Mangual put the A’s back in front by two runs with a pinch-hit RBI single in the fourth.
The Reds continued to answer. With two outs in the fifth, Joe Morgan walked. With a 3–2 count on Bobby Tolan, Morgan broke for second and was able to score when Tolan lined a base hit into right-center field. The speedy Morgan and Tolan collaborated once again in the eighth. Morgan again walked, stole second and scored on another Tolan single to tie the game at four.
In the ninth, Rose singled in the go-ahead run to give the Reds a 5-4 lead. Game 3 starter Jack Billingham came in to relieve in the ninth, but the A’s put runners on the corners with one out. Bert Campaneris hit a foul pop behind first base that Tony Pérez drifted back and appeared to call for. But second baseman Morgan raced over, waved Perez off, caught the ball, slipped on the grass but got up and fired a throw to nail pinch runner Blue Moon Odom, who had tagged from third.
The Friday afternoon contest was the last non-weekend World Series day game. The three games in Oakland had all been scheduled to be played at night, but Game 3 was rained out, forcing Game 5 to be played on a Friday, originally scheduled as a travel day. The game was played in the afternoon (1 p.m. PT) to allow ample time for the teams to travel to Cincinnati for Game 6 the next day.
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