Angel Debuts - 1966

1966: In This House That I Call Home...

Opening day 1966 occured on April 12 in old Comiskey Park. The game saw the debut of Five Angels in a 14-inning contest. Right Fielder Jackie Warner batted 6th and went 2 for 6, flying out in his first major league at-bat. Infielder Norm Siebern, who once was traded along with Don Larsen to the Kansas City Athletics for Roger Maris in 1959, batted for Dean Chance in the 9th inning, singling only to be left stranded.

Siebern walked to lead off the 14th inning, creating a domino effect that would lead to three Angel debuts. Willie Montanez pinch ran for Siebern and stole 2nd base. It was his major league debut. He had been selected by the Angels from the Cardinals in a "first-year minor league draft" during the winter meetings and was returned back to St. Louis on May 5, 1966. The Puerto Rican native would play thru the 1982 season but would never reach the postseason in 1632 career games with 9 teams (ironically, though, never with the Cardinals). With Montanez on 2nd base, Cardenal and Knoop struck out. Fregosi was walked to set up the double play. Ed Bailey then made his Angel debut, batting for the pitcher, Ed Sukla. A pitching change was made by the ChiSox, with Juan Pizzaro relieving Dennis Higgins. Bailey was then pinch hit for in his own pinch-hitting Angel debut. The batter would be Frank Malzone, who struck out to end the 14th inning in a game that would be lost in the bottom of the inning.

106. Jackie Warner
107. Norm Siebern
108. Willie Montanez
109. Ed Bailey
110. Frank Malzone
111. Lew Burdette

April 19, 1966. In the first major league game ever played at Anaheim Stadium a 39-year old veteran made his Angel debut to begin his 17th season in the big leagues. Pitcher Lew Burdette, the Most Valuable Player of the 1957 World Series, pitched an inning and a third of relief in the Angels' 1-3 loss to the White Sox. Burdette was reunited with former Braves teammate Joe Adcock, enjoying his third and final season as an Angel.

112. Dick Egan
113. Jorge Rubio
114. Minnie Rojas
115. Howie Reed

Two pitchers made their Angel debuts on April 21 in the first Thursday night game at Anaheim Stadium. Lefty Dick Egan relieved Fred Newman in the 3rd inning and pitched thru the 5th. He would be traded May 27th to the Dodgers for Howie Reed. Jorge Rubio pitched the 6th and 7th innings in his Major League debut. One of the all-time great Angel player names, Minnie Rojas (given name: Minervino), a 32-year old rookie Right Hander made his major league debut starting against Cleveland in the second game of a doubleheader in Anaheim on May 30. He got the win, allowing 1 earned run in 5 and a third innings. The first 17-inning game at Anaheim Stadium took place the next evening, when a May 31 crowd of 14,255 saw the Angel debut of Dodger 1965 World Series contributor Howie Reed. He pitched three innings of shutout ball while the 4 hour 58 minute game was still in regulation.

116. Clyde Wright

It was the first game of a doubleheader in Minnesota against the American League Champion Twins on June 15 when the 25-year old rookie righthander took the mound. 9 innings, 1 run and 4 hits later, Clyde Wright had his first major league victory in his debut as a big leaguer. It was the first of 189 games he would start for the Angels (6th all-time), his 266 appearances ranking 11th, his 1403+ innings pitched 6th all time in franchise history. The victory was one of 87 in an Angels uniform (6th in club ranking) in 8 seasons with the club.

117. Jay Johnstone
118. Ramon Lopez

While the signing of "Bonus Baby" Jay Johnstone is a thing of baseball lore, his 1 for 4 debut on June 30 in Anaheim is almost forgotten. He would go on to play 448 games wearing a halo. Ramon Lopez made his one and only big league start on August 21. He lasted 2 innings, surrendering 4 runs on 4 hits to the Washington Senators. He pitched 5 more innings in 3 games and was done as an Angel and a big leaguer.

On September 15, Bubba Morton started both games of a doubleheader in Baltimore (the Orioles were just two weeks away from sweeping the Dodgers in the World Series). He went 2 for 3 in the first game (with the Angels only totaling 4 hits) and 2 for 4 with 2 RBI in the 2nd game (with the Angels only totaling 5 hits and 3 runs). The final Angel of `66 was Charlie Vinson, making his major league debut as a pinch hitter and walking in that first Angel plate appearance. He would appear in just 13 games that season, his only mark in the bigs.

119. Bubba Morton
120. Charlie Vinson

At 80-82, the 1966 California Angels completed their first season in a ballpark built just for them.

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