By Bob Nightengale for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- Tom Niedenfuer woke up Thursday morning in his Florida home, clicked on the TV, and gasped when he saw the score.
Not again. Not now.
NLCS: Matchup between the Dodgers, Cardinals
Two hours later, the phone rang, and it could only mean one thing.
"Let me guess,'' he told USA TODAY Sports, "what this is all about.''
"Congratulations, you're the first one to call,'' he said. "My phone's going to be ringing all week. That's why I was out here rooting against the Cardinals, so I wouldn't have to hear all this (stuff)."
The St. Louis Cardinals, with their Division Series victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, are back in the National League Championship Series for the third consecutive year, and the eighth time in the last 13 years.
Only this time, they are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yes, a rematch of the 1985 NLCS, beginning at 8:37 ET tonight at Busch Stadium.
Those videotapes from that series will be rolling all week. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda will be second-guessed again. Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark's heroics will be celebrated all over again.
And one middle-aged man, whose daughter, Kristy, won the Miss Tennessee beauty pageant last week for the right to be in the Miss USA pageant, will have his senses assaulted until the series mercifully ends.
Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!
How Niedenfuer hates that legendary Jack Buck radio call.
If Kirk Gibson's homer was voted the greatest moment in L.A. sports history, Niedenfuer is the antithesis, giving up consecutive game-winning homers in the best-of-seven series.
"It sucks,'' says Niedenfuer, 54. "It still sucks. It's been almost 30 years, you'd think they'd have something better to show on TV, but they keep showing it, especially this time of year.''
GAME 1: Cardinals, Dodgers announce starters
It was painful enough that Ozzie Smith hit the game-inning homer in Game 5 at Busch Stadium - moments after NBC reminded the world the switch-hitting Smith had never hit a left-handed homer in 3,009 at-bats.
Two days later, it was unmerciful.
Jack Clark hit a towering three-run, two-out, ninth-inning homer off Niedenfuer that sent the Cardinals to the World Series, and Lasorda screaming into the night.
"It broke my heart,'' Lasorda said Thursday. "It still bothers me today.''
It was a loss that Niedenfuer will forever be reminded.
"I know it was a great baseball moment,'' Niedenfuer said, "and it takes two people to make a great moment.
"I just wish I wasn't in it.''
Many of the Dodgers weren't even born at the time of the '85 NLCS, but in case they weren't aware, they were reminded Thursday when they took batting practice at Busch Stadium.
The huge right-center scoreboard kept showing the home runs, as part of the greatest moments in Cardinals postseason history. Over. And over.
Every three minutes, there it was for all of the Dodgers to see:
Smith gleefully running around the bases, thrusting his right arm into the air, the old Busch Stadium crowd doing berserk.
Clark, ever so slowly trotting around the bases, with Dodgers left fielder Pedro Guerrero slamming his glove to the ground, in front of a dead-silent Dodger Stadium crowd.
What wasn't shown: A late-night phone call four years later, waking Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog at 1:30 in the morning, from a woman sobbing uncontrollably.
It was Niedenfuer's wife, Judy, the former actress and model. Niedenfuer just received word from the Seattle Mariners he had been released.
Judy, knowing the anguish and torment her husband endured from the 1985 playoffs, was now asking Herzog if he would hire her husband.
Herzog signed Niedenfuer the next day, and Niedenfuer spent the final year of his career in the Cardinals' organization.
"I never told that to anyone before,'' Herzog told USA TODAY Sports Thursday, "but I'll never forget it as long as I live. She just felt so bad for Tom. What happened to him during the playoffs wasn't fair.
"He never should have been in that situation. I tell Lasorda that all of the time.''
Niedenfuer inherited the Dodgers' closer's role after Steve Howe was released after another drug relapse. Niedenfuer was fatigued in September, he said, throwing 106 1/3 innings that season with a 5.70 ERA the final five weeks Now, he was brought into the game with one out in the seventh inning, and the Dodgers leading, 4-1.
Two innings, 13 batters, 68 pitches later, Niedenfuer was still pitching.
"Different times back then,'' said Niedenfuer, a 10-year veteran who retired after 1990. "Everything changed when Howe left.''
Niedenfuer, trying to protect a 5-4 lead, ran into trouble in the ninth. He stood on the mound with runners on second and third, two outs, and cleanup hitter Jack Clark at the plate. Lasorda was faced with a critical decision: Intentionally walk Clark, loading the bases for left-handed outfielder Andy Van Slyke. Or pitch to Clark, whose 22 home runs that year belied the fact he was the power-hitting menace in a lineup of rabbits.