Theirs is not essentially a contact sport, but as Baltimore and Oakland, Cincinnati and New York fought last weekend to get to the World Series, a special intensity enveloped their games that caused them, for all of baseball's emphasis on technical excellence, to exude an aura of physicality, even danger. Ballplayers may affect nonchalance, but when winning three of five in a championship series can settle a season, they readily assume the demeanor of a tiger or, like Baltimore's Jim Palmer at right, display the survival instincts of a cornered cobra. Some, like the A's blithe base stealer Bert Campaneris, burst forth with unexpected furies. Last October he vented his playoff spleen by flinging a bat; this year he was content to swing it, launching Sunday's second game with a homer as Oakland evened the series with a 6-3 victory after dropping the opener to the masterful Palmer 6-0.
The closest the A's came to knocking Jim Palmer out of the box In the first game was literally; Reggie Jackson's ferocious line drive nearly decapitated him.
Given a license to steal by A's Manager Dick Williams, the fleet Campaneris raced a good throw to Baltimore's Bobby Grich—and beat it, as usual.