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Bruce Sutter in . . . The Nagging Question

May 22, 2007
 

 
I was never much of a pitcher. In fact, I only took the hill three times, all in my last year of little league, once when I somehow struck out the side in the last inning of a blowout against a team of asthmatic 8-year-olds, once when I walked seven guys in a row, and then finally once when my straight slowballs got so repeatedly hammered that I actually began to cry.

Needless to say, I never got straight which kind of grips were good for throwing different kinds of pitches. That said, I don’t think Bruce Sutter is showing off the grip for his famous forkball here. I may be wrong, but I’ve always had it that the forkball called for the forefinger and middle finger to be spread wide on the ball.

If I’m right about Bruce Sutter neglecting to reveal his forkball grip here, it’s fitting, for at the time I got this 1979 card, Bruce Sutter’s forkball was to me about the most mysterious and awe-inspiring weapon in all of baseball. It’s just as well I didn’t ever see the grip that produced this devastating pitch. Better to preserve the mystery.

I’d actually only seen the pitch in action once, in the previous year’s all-star game. Once was enough. Back then the all-star game was just about the only time a kid living in rural Vermont would get a chance to see many of the National League stars. I had never seen Sutter before, had not even heard of him, and then suddenly here he was. According to Retrosheet’s play-by-play of the game he came into a 3-3 tie in the 8th inning and got George Brett to ground out. I don’t remember that at-bat, but I distinctly remember the next two, in which he made two of my beloved Red Sox, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, look like two drunken sailors trying to whack a divebombing sparrow with a barstool. Sutter’s utter domination seemed to inspire the N.L. batsmen, who erupted for 4 runs in the bottom of the inning, and Sutter was fittingly credited as the game’s winning pitcher. 

Anyway, the Nagging Question this week grows out of thoughts of that awe-inspiring forkball, and also out of the still-lingering discussion of beloved Shlabotniks in the previous edition of The Nagging Question. Yesterday a friend of one player, Adrian Garrett, brought up earlier in the conversation posted some information that reminded me that even the guys I am all too often apt to casually refer to as journeymen or drifters or even “nobodies” were all tremendously gifted athletes worthy of praise.*

So for today’s edition of The Nagging Question I wanted to momentarily try to set aside my usual predilection for using my old baseball cards as springboards to dive into the polluted canals of personal failure and disappointment. 

Instead, I’d like to focus on the jaw-dropping moment. For me it was when Bruce Sutter unleashed a pitch that made guys I’d seen mangle the offerings of other pitchers seem like absolute beginners. I wonder if others can remember having a similar experience as a fan. A spectacular catch, maybe, or a barrage of unhittable fastballs, or a sizzling home run leaving the yard in the time it takes to blink. A moment that not only turned the opposition into seeming beginners but made everyone watching feel like a beginner, too, as if something was happening for the first time, the moment brand new, a gleaming manifestation of the words of the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, who said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.” In other words: 

Who wowed you? 

*(note: Bucky Dent is not worthy of praise; in fact, he should either be shunned or put in Pilgrimy shackles at the center of the village and pelted with vegetables, I can’t decide which.)

39 comments

  1. 1.  Tom Seaver.

    I saw him pitch a complete game against the Dodgers at Dodger stadium once. My brother and I had second level seats but managed to get down to field level by the last couple innings. In the ninth inning we were right by the dugout. You could hear the hiss of his fastball. The Dodgers were helpless. I think he ended up with a two-hitter. That was when I realized how good these guys really were. I had seen Koufax a couple times but never up close like with Seaver. I imagine that would have been even more impressive.


  2. 2.  Joe Morgan.

    Not once did he take a lead during a pitchout. Bill James pointed this out in his Historical Abstract of 1986 that everytime a team tried it, there would be Joe, standing on first, arms akimbo as if to say, “Can we play baseball now?” I asked Joe about it once. He said there was always something the pitcher or catcher gave away. I was, am and always will be a Dodger fan. Davey Lopes was a helluva baserunner but I saw him scoot back to first several times during a pitchout. Joe Morgan never had to–he always saw it coming.


  3. 3.  Hideo Nomo.

    On TV he threw what looked like a very hittable chest high fastball, right down the middle of the plate, and of course the split finger. While attending a game at Dodger stadium I saw him strike out 16 batters, while throwing a complete game shutout. I was always amazed at how bad he could make hitters look with just two pitches. And his tornado pitching motion… I tried to emulate him on occasion playing catch with my brother and I would fall on my ass. He was sure was fun to watch.


  4. 4.  Well, sorry to take this route in answer to your question, but, Bruce Sutter.

    As the child of Cub fans living in a Natl. League City (LA) I saw Sutter semi-frequently.

    In my mind, Sutter struck out the side on 9 pitches each time I saw him pitch, against some really good Dodger teams. Lets say, for the sake of embellishment that the hitters he got were Garvey, Cey and Reggie Smith.

    I also just the figure that he cut as a large bearded man in powder blue pin-striped jammies. My first prototype of the “intimidating closer.”


  5. 5.  5 The word “recall” belongs somewhere in that second-to-last sentence. So in awe am I of Sutter that I can’t even form full sentences.


  6. 6.  I was amazed that Dave Winfield could be drafted by the NBA, the NFL and MLB. I was astounded that the Padres would debut him in the majors without the benefit of minor league ball. (He never played in the minors.) At one Dodger game I attended, I saw Winfield smoke an unbelieveable line-shot home run to dead center field that split the twin flag poles like a well-aimed field goal and short-hopped the rear wall of the stadium, something like a 450-foot drive.

    Outside of baseball, the one time I saw an NBA game up-close was a mid-80s Lakers game from the fourth row of the Fabulous Forum. I had witnessed many UCLA games from the student section, but the Magic Johnson-led Lakers from the short distance one normally watches mere mortals in pick-up ball was simply jaw-dropping. The crisp precision of the passing, the speed of the game, the distance of the jump shots, the very physical play underneath the hoop – all boggled the mind. They made mincemeat of a very-good Detroit Pistons squad (Isaiah Thomas, et al.) that was a year away from being conference champions.

    Bo Jackson – 90+ yard runs and steamrolling NFL linebackers as a part-time player.

    Beyond sports – any excellent guitarist up close, making it look far, far too easy. Keith Moon – simply ridiculous.


  7. 7.  Joe Morgan and Bo Jackson were both gods (though in very different ways.

    Rickey Henderson in his prime. Anytime he was on first base the pitcher would look terrified and the entire defense would just unravel. An amazing thing to see.

    Young Ken Griffey Jr. Not only did he excel in every aspect of the game, he played with such style and enthusiasm that he outshone anyone else on the field. You couldn’t not watch him.


  8. 8.  I thought Joel Zumaya in the ALDS last year was pretty astounding. All the pitches looked like little bees on meth. 100+ mph and moving all over the place.

    That Barry Bonds AB vs. Gagne where Bonds pulled a 101 mph pitch foul into the water was obscene. The final result of that AB became a foregone conclusion after that pitch.


  9. 9.  David Eckstein:)


  10. 10.  The sound of Rob Dibble’s warmup pitches hitting the catcher’s mitt at a game I saw in Pittsburgh back in 88 or 89. We could hear it all the way in center field and so walked around to see what it was.

    Piazza’s post-9/11 home run at Shea.

    Almost any Dwight Gooden appearance in 1985.


  11. 11.  You asked for more Heidegger and here goes a little.

    In the 2005 NLCS the Cardinals were facing elimination in game 5 and going into the bottom down, it didn’t look good with “Lights-out-Lidge” coming in. I remember being at the bar (is it ok to replace these childhood memories from the ripe age of 22?), throwing darts, drinking a pitcher or many, and being visibly upset with the chance that the Cardinals were done for the year looming over me. There were 7 people in the bar including my friend and I, and everyone besides the two of us were cub fans. It was a rough go. I had also just called my girlfriend to say goodnight or what-have-you since she was living a few hours away at the time. That conversation for some reason didn’t go well.

    All this is building – being in cubby territory, pissy girlfriend, the cardinals’ impending doom looming, and the pitchers of beer didn’t help – as Lidge proceeds to strike out the first two batters, John Rodriguez and John Mabry (My Joe Shlabotnik if there is one). I’m feeling defeated until Eck comes up and gets a slap hit, no idea how he did it. Edmonds then stands in, a postseason hero the previous year. Now, I’ve heard that Edmonds is a man who takes a high number of strikes statistically, but as a fan who has watched him over the years, he still never seems to walk. I know this is just an anomolly of perception, but some would say our perceptions are all we have, or even all we are. I can’t tell you how high I jumped when Edmonds walked, but I can tell you I spilled half a beer and knocked down a ceiling tile.

    The reason for this elation is of course that Mighty Casey was up to bat. Albert Pujols could do no wrong. He was about to win his first MVP and even against Lidge, you could just feel that something great was looming on the horizon. We were not let down as Albert hit the largest homer I’ve ever seen to put the Cards up one and win the game. I don’t really remember the next 5 minutes. I know the first one was pure elation, the second was confused shock, and the third, fourth, and fifth I imagine were rather loud. The pissy girlfriend, the cubby bar, and the impending doom all got swept under the rug and I was again in awe of a man able to do seemingly anything he wanted with the bat. When Albert stepped up, I knew it would be OK and the fact that it was carried me through the rest of that winter.

    So where does our dead German phenomenologist fit in here? In his magnus opus he states the “being can manifest itself as a burden.” That night being was a burden, and in a very messianic way, Albert took that burden away. Unfortunately being is something that remains with us no matter how many messianic Dominican first basemen alleviate its burden temporarily. The day of game 6, I was to go visit that pissy girlfriend. It didn’t turn out well as I didn’t go up and she ended up breaking up with me over the phone. That night I went out to have a drink and watch my Cardinals continue their redemption in what turned out to be the last game at Busch Stadium. After the game had ended, my roommate turned to me and said, “well at least you got all the bad shit out of the way in one day.” Heidegger was proven correct, being was a burden once again, but for one night a towering blast from a man who seemed to be able to hit them at will had taken that burden away.


  12. 12.  One: Eric Gagne. Two: Cesar Izturis (fielding, of course).

    I figure I watched about five consecutive outings that Gagne pitched (on television) in the middle of his 84 consecutive saves streak. Over the course of those five outings, there wasn’t a single batter who seemed at ease. The batters just could not pick up the fastball versus change up, and they seemed fooled on every pitch. I think over that stretch, he K’d 11 of 15 batters, and no one hit anything out of the infield. There’d be these moments when someone would swing and you’d think “man, what was he swinging at?”

    Itzuris is just a marvel to watch at Shortstop, and I had the privilege of seeing him from pretty good seats. Just when I would think that he made one incredibly hard play look easy, he would field another grounder by diving, get to his feet gracefully, and wing the ball over to first without seeming like it was any effort at all to do so, catching the batter by a step.


  13. 13.  I had gone to see the Diamondbacks play the Cardinals in 1999 during the McGwire madness. I was excited because Randy Johnson was the starter, in the midst of a Cy Young season, while the Cardinals pitcher was 3-9 with an ERA that made for a great slugging percentage. I bought tickets months early, something that I never do, and got seats directly behind home plate, about 30 feet up, but with a perfect view of incoming pitches. My friend and I so cavalierly predicted a 6-1 DBacks win with McGwire accounting for the lone run, on of course a long home run. (yes, the home run chase brought me back to baseball). Jose hit every corner that night. His command was impeccable and was a thing of beauty to watch.

    The game ended 0-0 until the Cards scratched out a run in the top of the 9th, while Jose Jimenez, working on a no-hitter, set the the impressive veteran DBacks lineup down 1-2-3, completing the no-no. I was stunned. As were the other 48,000 in attendance.

    I turned to my friend, and in a whisper I asked, “Did we just see a no-hitter?” It took him a long moment to reply, and barely audibly, “yeah, I think so.”

    No one spoke after the last out was recorded. Hushed whispers. Filing out as if they were getting ready to go to a funeral, certainly not a beautiful Friday night at the ballpark. A stunned silence, a shock and awe, a “holy shit!” moment. And Jose Jimenez touches the sky for one night.

    Jose Jimenez, where are you now? Anyone?


  14. 14.  I had gone to see the Diamondbacks play the Cardinals in 1999 during the McGwire madness. I was excited because Randy Johnson was the starter, in the midst of a Cy Young season, while the Cardinals pitcher was 3-9 with an ERA that made for a great slugging percentage. I bought tickets months early, something that I never do, and got seats directly behind home plate, about 30 feet up, but with a perfect view of incoming pitches. My friend and I so cavalierly predicted a 6-1 DBacks win with McGwire accounting for the lone run, on of course a long home run. (yes, the home run chase brought me back to baseball). Jose hit every corner that night. His command was impeccable and was a thing of beauty to watch.

    The game ended 0-0 until the Cards scratched out a run in the top of the 9th, while Jose Jimenez, working on a no-hitter, set the the impressive veteran DBacks lineup down 1-2-3, completing the no-no. I was stunned. As were the other 48,000 in attendance.

    I turned to my friend, and in a whisper I asked, “Did we just see a no-hitter?” It took him a long moment to reply, and barely audibly, “yeah, I think so.”

    No one spoke after the last out was recorded. Hushed whispers. Filing out as if they were getting ready to go to a funeral, certainly not a beautiful Friday night at the ballpark. A stunned silence, a shock and awe, a “holy shit!” moment. And Jose Jimenez touches the sky for one night.

    Jose Jimenez, where are you now? Anyone?


  15. 15.  Two years ago, I watched Brian McCann get his first major league HR against the A’s. It was clear that he was going to be something special.

    The biggest “wow” moment came at a Memphis Redbird games. I watched Dan Haren pitch 7 scoreless innings and hit a HR and a double. He was called up the next week. In minor-league games, the guys that are real major-leaguers stand out like the Sutters and Seavers do on the next level, even if they are merely “run of the mill” majors.


  16. 16.  Eric Gagne.


  17. 17.  I am loving these stories. A lot of the guys mentioned so far awed me too, of course, Seaver in particular, even though the only time I saw him live was in his final year, with the Red Sox, when he beat young fireballer Mark Langston on nothing but buddhistic poise. Anyway, thanks to all so far for the thoughts on no-hitters, the burden of being, Piazza’s post-9/11 dinger, the too-quick comet that was Gagne (Eric, that is, not Greg), and all the rest (including the impossible frenzy of Keith Moon).


  18. 18.  Sorry to come out of my cave for 2 posts in a day, but I remember that Jimenez no-no. I didn’t have cable and there were precious few cardinals games broadcast on channel 11. I don’t think I even watched the first inning before my mother came in and wanted to watch ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus.’ It was Jimenez pitching and the ’99 Cardinals weren’t really doing well if I remember correctly, plus it was my mom and she could take me, so I relented.

    When the movie was done, she turned it back on to the game so I could see the end and we caught it just in time to see a bunch of people jumping on Jose Jimenez because he was obviously turning into a were-wolf or something. I didn’t know. Then a graphic popped up saying first no hitter by a cardinal since such and such a day by such and such a pitcher. My mom looked at me and said, “Well, I liked the movie.”


  19. 19.  George Foster. Game six of the 1975 World Series. I was 13 years old and I lived and died with the Reds. In the bottom of the 9th, the game tied, Boston loaded the bases with no outs. Fred Lynn hit a long fly ball down the left field line. I still remember the complete resignation I felt in that moment. The only possible chance we had was for Foster to let the ball drop and hope it went foul. I can’t tell you how sad it made me to realize the best thing to do was to give up and hope for the best. But Foster caught it. And in that moment I realized that he was a professional and couldn’t just let the ball drop. I also realized that the game was over and although we’d gone down swinging (throwing, really) the series was tied. And then George Foster made what is still the best throw I’ve ever seen. He threw a bullet from the left field corner to home plate to nail Denny Doyle. I was so shocked I don’t recall even being happy about it, just awed. This guy was more skilled than I could comprehend. And no situation was hopeless. The next batter grounded out and the game went into extra innings and eventual immortality for Carlton Fisk but I still think Foster’s double play was the greatest play of, perhaps, the greatest World Series ever.


  20. 20.  In all respect to Adrian Garrett and his friend, don’t let ‘em put you off what you do here.
    I consider it a given that every major leaguer, even Drungo Hazewood, was a person of exceptional athletic talent.
    Doesn’t mean we can’t approach them with irreverence, though.

    To echo a previous poster, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry together wowed me circa 1985-86.
    No single game or highlight comes to mind. It’s more of a highlight reel of these two young, astonishingly talented guys.
    You got the feeling the Mets could just keep slotting competent veterans in around them, and they would have the core of a contending team for 15 years to come.
    It’s gotta be tough to be a Mets fan and think of what could have been with those two.


  21. 21.  19: The story goes that Doyle, on third, thought third base coach Zimmer was saying “go, go, go!” while Zimmer afterward claimed he was saying “No, no, no!”

    Dewey Evans also made a spectacular game-saving double-play in that very same game, robbing a guy of a homer and doubling a runner off first.

    20: “Doesn’t mean we can’t approach them with irreverence, though.”

    Totally agree.


  22. 22.  Barry Bonds – all around player

    Attending every Pirate home game from 1989-1993 allowed me to witness the OF magnificence that was Barry Bonds in his prime. Any ball hit to LCF was going to end up in his glove if it had any loft at all. I remember once when Jack Clark smoked a ball that was just beyond Bonds’ reach and figured I had witnessed the impossible. With Van Slyke in CF, the Pirates’ had most of the OF pretty well covered.


  23. 23.  Ron Guidry, 1978. It may’ve been this game. It may’ve been on Monday Nite Baseball:

    http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1978/B06120NYA1978.htm

    It wasn’t a good feeling. I was, and remain, a Red Sox fan.


  24. 24.  Hey, Mr. Daly. Good to see you around these parts.


  25. 25.  I remember going to see a Binghamton Mets vs New Britain Rock Cats game in early 2003, and the New Britain catcher simply looked like a man among boys. Not only was there a night-and-day difference between this guy and the other hitters, but defensively he made what is probably the greatest play I have ever seen a catcher make — a full-out sprint and spectacular diving catch on a foul pop-up. It made you sit up and take notice.

    (He is now the reigning AL batting champ.)


  26. 26.  –>20

    I will second the Darryl Strawberry memory.

    Growing up in StL, I remember the 1985 division race between the Mets-Cards. There were some AWESOME games down the stretch, including 2 times John Tudor pitched 10 inning shutouts in 1-0 games.

    In this all-time classic:

    http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1985/B09110NYN1985.htm

    Gooden and Tudor both threw 9 shutout innings at Shea before Gooden was pinch-hit for in the 9th; Cards won 1-0 on a Ceasar Cedeno homer in the 10th. (Looking through Retrosheet, the Cards-Mets played like 5 1-0 extra-inning games in 85-6-7. Different times….)

    4 weeks later, I saw Tudor shut out the Mets for 10 innings at Busch, on a crazy Friday night with the Cards able to clinch the division that weekend.

    But the game was won by…Darryl Strawberry.

    I didn’t know that much about the Mets in that pre-internet era, and Gooden was getting all the big attention that year, deservedly so. I knew they had our former cokehead at 1B, Gimpy Gary Carter and an assortment of lesser gimps and iron-gloved oddities at various corners, and some interchangable platooning infielders, some pitcher from Yale, of all places, Gooden of course, and … ummm … oh that other tall, lanky, young black guy, who seemed to get hurt and strike out a lot.

    Well, dude came up in the 11th against left-handed curveballer Ken Daley and absolutely crushed the longest home run I have ever seen. It HIT THE SCOREBOARD CLOCK, like something out of “The Natural”, and if you don’t remember old, old Busch, the scoreboard was all the way behind all the bleachers, hanging about 20 feet above the bleachers, way out past the 383 mark in the “power alley” in right — roughly like hitting one off the carport-roof-thing at Dodger Stadium.

    There were gasps and even some polite applause (it was StL, after all) and then…crickets. “Guess no pennant this weekend, Mabel,” was about all you could say.

    I’ve never seen a player completely change a game like that. (Although Jack Clark’s Pennant-winning moon shot off Poor Tom Niedenfuer 2 weeks later — where you can see Pedro Guerrero throw down his glove in disgust on the highlight reel — was maybe close.)

    I remember looking back at the outfield several minutes later, and being very surprised that the clock hadn’t stopped at 10:03. Because everything else in the park had.

    RS Link: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1985/B10010SLN1985.htm

    JW


  27. 27.  Likewise, Mr. Enders


  28. 28.  Early 80s, at a sparsely attended (yes, young bucks, there used to be such a thing at Fenway) Brewers game at Fenway. Sitting in the right field grandstand, walked down to stand right behind Don Sutton, warming up in the bullpen before the game. Stood there staring, trying to time the pitches. I knew, even then, he didn’t throw all that hard, but the pitches were impossibly, incredibly fast, on you before you could realize it. It seemed like you had to start your swing while he was still holding the ball, then all of a sudden WHAM! it is by you. Then Sutton bends a curve, nearly as fast but with this horrific bend in it. Then a slider, slashing off to the left. It seems impossible to hit him.

    The first time I realized how deeply, impossibly hard it must be to play in the big leagues, if even a slightly below average (at this point) pitcher throws stuff this NASTY.


  29. 29.  Jose Canseco

    I went to a White Sox game in August 1990 and, when I saw Canseco on the field, I thought “Holy shit, that’s Jose Canseco!” This was after I’d been watching Michael Jordan for six years, but Canseco seemed really important. And that was before he took batting practice. During the game, he hit a ball that just disappeared when it hit his bat. It was called foul, but it may still be going up. He also fell on his ass chasing a Frank Thomas fly ball. It turned into Thomas’s third career triple, before he’d ever hit a home run.

    Thomas has added eight more triples and 492 more HR and became my second Bruce Sutter.


  30. 30.  20, 26: Strawberry stands out to me as the most pronounced case of a guy who seemed to somehow project with his body language as he strode to the plate what was likely about to happen during the at-bat. Sometimes as he got into the batter’s box something about him just seemed to be humming like a power station, and those times so often seemed to give way to one of his sweet-swinging scoreboard-denting blasts. Other times you could just feel he didn’t have it. I’ve noticed this dynamic with some other hitters, too, most especially Nomar and Piazza in their primes, who would have streaks when it would seem impossible to imagine anything getting by them, but none moreso than Darryl, with the possible oddball exception of Marty Barrett. I swear I could always tell when Marty Barret was about to unleash the awesome power of his patented crisply-struck opposite field single.


  31. 31.  Koufax

    ’63 World Series. Nothing was as awesome as watching those shell shocked Yankee hitters go back to the dugout. For a lifetime Dodger fan (and Yankee hater) those were moments to savor.


  32. 32.  Bo Jackson. Wow. Both football and baseball. The combination of speed and power was truly amazing.

    Jim Kaat. Huh? Ya. 1975 all-star game, when he came in to pitch, as a member of the White Sox. Here is an excerpt from my article on the 1975 all-star game:

    “One of the most interesting things in the game came when Jim Kaat of the Whitesox came in to pitch. He exhibited his quick pitch delivery technique. I did not recall seeing or hearing about this technique before. Kaat would catch the ball from the catcher and immediately make his next pitch, using only an abbreviated windup. The hitters were kept completely off guard. Morgan tried to step out quickly as Kaat promptly launched a quick pitch. Bench tried to do the same, but all he could do was laugh when the next Kaat quick pitch was tossed. The hitters were baffled. At times Kaat would throw his “efus pitch”-a quick pitch that is just kind of tossed to the plate with a slow arch. I wonder why some pitchers today don’t try the Kaat technique.”

    Complete article is at:

    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/primate_studies/discussion/the_1975_all_star_game/


  33. 33.  For me, it’s an example of the amazing 1989 Orioles that comes to mind. A team totally befitting of Wilker-esque commentary, as they had gone from worst in the league to “almost first” – losing 2 of the last 3 to the Blue Jays to bow out of the AL East race.

    About mid-summer that year, rookie relief pitcher Greg Olsen faced the heart of the Oakland order that had so devastated the rest of the league. I believe it was McGwire, D. Parker, and D. Henderson (although Conseco might’ve been somehwere in the mix as well). It was the bottom of the 9th in a one run game and Olsen fanned them all on huge sweeping curveballs.

    I remember vividly on the “highlight tape” of that season that they dubbed Kenny Rogers ‘Blaze of Glory” over the at-bats in slow motion.

    Of course, there were many other memorable moments from that club, such as the day, for no apparent reason, Frank Robinson batted backup catcher Bob Melvin in the cleanup slot, and he responded with 2 home runs! Or when Davey Johnson (mentioned, I believe, at least abstractly, in a previous Wilker post) pitched a complete game his first start in the majors to help keep the O’s in 1st place for the time being. I believe the announcer’s call was “Davey Johnson had about 20 fans here at the beginning of the day….now he has 20,000 fans!!”

    However, for me, nothing topped Cal hitting homeruns in both the 2130 and 2131 games. “He’s done it again!!!” I remember Chris Berman saying, electric chills going up my spine.

    In thinking of other moments, I vividly remember Jack Morris no-hitting the ’84 White Sox (Luzinski, Baines, Kittle, etc). I remember him going around shaking hands with the fans PRIOR to the 9th inning – which seemed like a sure jinx. Jack of course went on to throw a few lights out World Series games for the Twins as well.

    While I’m rambling at length about great Oriole moments in baseball – who can forget Tito Landrum’s home run in the ’83 ALCS?


  34. 34.  Bobby Bonilla-Tiger Stadium 1997

    The Tigers were about half way through a 20 year downward spiral when the first interleague series was played at theThe Corner. My buddy’s and I drove downtown to catch a team we’d never seen live before…the Florida Marlins. I’m not sure if that was the motivation, or if it was the dollar hot dogs and pizza with the purchase an upper deck reserved seat. Anyway…sitting in LF, upper deck…Bonilla CRUSHES a ball that I swear never was on a downward plane while it was in the stadium. The ball was on a 45 degree angle rocketing out of the stadium. The ball carried over the lights in RF and just kept going. A roof top shot at old Tiger Stadium was something you saw a couple times per year. Rare, but not anything mind blowing. This blast made Reggie Jackson’s famed 1971 All Star Game blast look like a pop up. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen footage of this home run. If I did…I wonder if it was what I remembered? I was 21 years old at the time so I wasn’t an awe struck kid. Looking back, I think that’s what made it so impressive. My adult mind was able to process what I saw…minus the 3 cups of Miller Lite during BP.


  35. 35.  Bobby Bonilla-Tiger Stadium 1997

    The Tigers were about half way through a 20 year downward spiral when the first interleague series was played at The Corner. My buddy’s and I drove downtown to catch a team we’d never seen live before…the Florida Marlins. I’m not sure if that was the motivation, or if it was the dollar hot dogs and pizza with the purchase an upper deck reserved seat. Anyway…sitting in LF, upper deck…Bonilla CRUSHES a ball that I swear never was on a downward plane while it was in the stadium. The ball was on a 45 degree angle rocketing out of the stadium. The ball carried over the lights in RF and just kept going. A roof top shot at old Tiger Stadium was something you saw a couple times per year. Rare, but not anything mind blowing. This blast made Reggie Jackson’s famed 1971 All Star Game blast look like a pop up. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen footage of this home run. If I did…I wonder if it was what I remembered? I was 23 years old at the time so I wasn’t an awe struck kid. Looking back, I think that’s what made it so impressive. My adult mind was able to process what I saw…minus the 3 cups of Miller Lite during BP.


  36. 36.  Pedro Martinez..

    By the time I saw him in person, he wasn’t the 98-02 magic man…but there was a game in late ’99, the Sox were on the west coast, I’m pretty sure a NESN game. I remember watching scrambled nesn, listening to the excitement in Remy & Kurtz as Petey blew guys away. I switched to WEEI when I headed to bed, but lay restless as Trup and Castig pretty much shouted each at bat. He struck out 15 batters. Every 5 days we thought Petey was going to set a new single game strikeout record.


  37. In 1983, fresh out of the University of Texas, Roger Clemens was assigned to finish the rest of the summer at AA New Britain of the Eastern League.
    He pitched a shutout and made the hitters look silly. In the playoffs, he won every game he pitched easily, including the final game of the League Championship. He was clearly not a normal player.
    I told everybody I knew that this Clemens guy would be the best pitcher in baseball. In 1986, when he finally broke out on the Sox and struck out 20 batters in a game, everybody suddenly thought I was a genius to predict it. But any idiot who had seen him pitch in the minors would have predicted the same thing.


  38. Randy Johnson. My brother and I went to Mesa for spring training in 2002, the year after the D-backs won the WS. Johnson walked to the bullpen to begin warming up. We stood on the fence, maybe 10 feet from him. Dozens of men and boys lined the fence from just behind him to just behind the catcher. What followed can only be described as 70-odd feet of awe. No on spoke; not a word, not a sound. As his pitches became faster the only sounds were sizzle and pop. Sizzle and pop. When he was done he walked away and received a round of applause. He wasn’t even pitching in that day’s game.


  39. Nice. I would have liked to have seen that.



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