Pat Burrell was about to step to the plate 0-for the series when Jimmy Rollins extended the invitation. Somehow, the Phillies managed to position themselves within one win of a world championship despite getting nothing from their slugging leftfielder. Nothing.
"I told him to join the party," the shortstop said after the game. "I told him to quit looking through the peep hole and open up the door."
Burrell was hitless in 13 World Series at-bats when he drilled a double off the left-centerfield wall to lead off the seventh. When pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett came around to score the winning run on a Pedro Feliz single, Burrell's invitation to the party had been stamped.
"I know I haven't really contributed much in this series, so to be able to come up there in a situation like that and get a big hit for us is extremely gratifying," Burrell said. "To give this championship to this city is just a dream come true."
Burrell will be an expensive free agent this offseason, so last night's at-bat could have been his last as a Phillie. He joined the organization as the No. 1 overall pick in 1998 and, after last night's game, he became emotional as he reflected on his time here.
He probably thought of all the cheers during that 2002 season, when he hit .282 with 37 home runs, and the boos during 2006, when he often looked as if he were trying to hit a pinata with a straw.
Burrell also thought of Rollins, his friend and teammate with the Phillies his entire career. Who says big boys don't cry?
"We've been through a lot," he said, trying desperately to control his emotions. "We grew up in this organization, and to get to this point is so incredible. Through all the times, we hung in there."
While Rollins celebrated on the field, Chase Utley pulled Burrell aside and congratulated him before dousing him with champagne. Ryan Howard did the same. These are the core position players who were groomed by a Phillies farm system that for years had yielded very little. Rollins, Burrell, Utley and Howard. Champions forever.
"Pat getting that double that wound up being the winning run," Howard said. "I don't think you can script it any better than that."
History will record Burrell having an .071 batting average in this World Series. At first glance, that 1-for-14 will be ugly. But the 13 outs he made are not the story. The one hit is. If it's his last here, what a way to go out.
Said Rollins: "He finally decided to open up the door and step in and hang with the big boys." *