Angels? Losers? Huh?
Now THIS is deja vu
Fell out of bed this morning and for some reason wanted to raid the closet for bell-bottoms and a leisure suit. Oh, yes — the Angels beat the Orioles on Saturday and Sunday after trailing 4-0 in both games.
The Halos had not won consecutive games they’d trailed by four runs in 30 years — since doing it against the Yankees in July 1979. That was the coming-of-age weekend for a downtrodden franchise, and how well I remember it.
On July 13-15, the California Angels tamed the traveling Bronx Zoo
The Friday game was a simple 6-1 victory — except for one thing: a Nolan Ryan no-hit bid turned into a fiasco which led to the end of a baseball tradition, of reporters doing double-duty as official scorers.
With Ryan five outs from the no-hitter, Jim Spencer hit a sinking liner to center field. Angels center fielder Rick Miller — who’d won a Gold Glove the year before — made a desperate bid for a diving catch that came up a few inches short.
Dick (no relation) Miller, the Angels beat writer for the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner acting as official scorer, ruled “Error.” Miller, see, was also working on a Ryan biography and thinking of the advance.
The entire Yankees dugout spilled out and gestured up to the press box in protest. Buzzie Bavasi, the late GM of the Angels, flew into the press box and down to Miller’s seat, screaming, “That’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen.”
Flash forward to the ninth, one out: Reggie Jackson drills a clean single up the middle and runs down the first-base line BACKWARDS, gesturing up to the press box and to Dick Miller. Ryan finishes off his one-hitter. Just another Friday the 13th.
Flash forward to Saturday: Down 6-0 after five, the Angels rally and eventually tie it on Don Baylor’s three-run homer off Goose Gossage with two outs in the ninth and win 8-7 in the 12th on Merv Rettenmund’s RBI single.
Sunday: Down 4-0 early, the Angels keep stirring up the already-frenzied fans with another surge culminated by Bobby Grich’s two-out, two-run homer in the ninth off Ron Guidry for a 5-4 win.
Oh … that series took the Angels into the All-Star Game break with a two-game AL West lead over the Texas Rangers, and they would finish the job with the franchise’s first division title before losing the ALCS … to the Orioles.
Getting weird, isn’t it? As the old saying goes, “Well, I’ll be a Rally Monkey’s uncle!”