Tag Archives: Los Angeles Angels

Bobby Grich beats the Yankees, 5-4

Bobby Grich is a darling of the sabermetric crowd. Had Wins Above Replacement been around in the 1970s and 1980s, there might have been a greater appreciation of Grich’s value. He had six seasons with a WAR of at least 6 and three more with a WAR of at least 4. He was a very good defender with a high on-base percentage Though often viewed as a member of the Hall of Very Good, tools like Jay Jaffe’s Hall of Fame evaluation system (JAWS) rate Grich as Cooperstown worthy. By that system, he rates as the 8th-best second baseman of all-time, one spot ahead of Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg.

There is a game from the 1984 season known as “The Sandberg Game” that is the signature contest of his Hall-of-Fame career. I think I found a game that could qualify as “The Grich Game.”

It took place on July 15, 1979 against the two-time defending champion Yankees. The Angels had won a dramatic game the day before. This one would be a one-man showcase.

On a day in which the Angels 3-through-5 hitters were a combined 0-for-12, it was a good thing that Grich was batting second. The Yankees zipped out to a 4-0 lead through two innings on two-run home runs by Chris Chambliss and Jim Spencer. With Cy Young winner Ron Guidry on the mound, a win seemed like a sure thing.

Grich got the Angels a run back in the third with a single. But the Angels squandered chances to score more in the third and fifth innings, leaving two men on base. They still trailed 4-1 when Grich came up with two men on base in the seventh. Grich’s two-run double against Guidry cut the lead to 4-3. But Carney Lansford and Don Baylor both lined out, leaving the Angels a run down with six outs remaining.

Guidry stayed on for the ninth inning, perhaps because Rich Gossage pitched 3 2/3 innings and Ron Davis threw 2 1/3 the day before. (combining to allow six runs). Guidry got two of the first three hitters out, sandwiching the outs around a walk. That brought up Grich.

Mark Heisler’s game story in the Los Angeles Times details how Yankees manager Billy Martin went to the mound to talk to Guidry, telling him not to let Grich pull the ball. Guidry obliged.

And Grich obliged. He homered to right to win the game, earning a postgame curtain call five minutes after the contest ended.

Final score, Bobby Grich 5, Yankees 4.

The time there were inside-the-park walk-off HR on consecutive days

The walk-off inside-the-park home run is normally an every few years sort of occurrence. In the time for which Baseball-Reference.com has data (1925 to 2018), there have been 27 documented. It’s a cool list of players, one highlighted by Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey Jr.

There is only one instance in this time of two walk-off inside-the-park home runs being hit in the same season. In fact, they were hit on consecutive days!

The first came in a game between the Phillies and Astros on August 1, 1966. The Astros came back from three runs down to tie the game in the ninth, and nearly went ahead in the 10th when Jim Wynn tried to steal home. The Astros contended afterwards that Wynn beat the tag at the plate, but umpire Ed Vargo called him out.

It got worse for Wynn in the bottom of the inning. In attempting to catch a fly ball hit by Richie Allen (also known as Dick Allen, which will be important in a bit), Wynn crashed into the fence and disclocated both his elbow and wrist. Allen circled the bases for the walk-off inside-the-park home run. Wynn recovered from the injuries well enough to play nearly the full 1967 season, in which he hit a career-high 37 home runs.

Let’s fast forward one day and 3,000 miles across the country, where the Angels are hosting the Yankees. The Angels trailed 5-1, but rallied to tie. The last two runs came with two outs in the ninth inning against the Yankees closer that day, Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford.

As if it wasn’t enough that Ford failed that day, how about this: Angels third baseman Paul Schaal batted with the score tied. He hit a line drive to shallow center. Mickey Mantle came racing in for the ball, and missed it. The ball went past him and went all the way to the wall. Schaal joked to sportswriters that it took him five minutes to circle the bases, but he beat the throw home for a walk-off inside-the-park home run.

To which I’d say: Find me another story in which Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle were the goats!

As I’ve noted before, I use old time newspaper stories to write this recap and when you get to a page with a game story, you often find yourself scanning the whole page. In this case, the second page of the game story in the Los Angeles Times is next to an article labeling Mantle ‘The Colossal Cripple.’ The story is about how Mantle is finally getting recognition he deserved as fans realize the end is near.

But there’s something smaller that also caught my eye, a really small ad for “Mr. Toyota” in nearby Inglewood. And who is Mr. Toyota in this case?

A man by the name of Dick Allen. (Please allow the artistic license to make for a fun coincidence!)