Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 81 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #81...
May 25, 2002 - The Minnesota Twins were in town and their roster had not only three players on it who would go on to play for the Angels (Torii Hunter, J.C. Romero and LaTroy Hawkins) but two players who would become the nemesis of everything Halo: David Ortiz was the Twins DH and A.J. Pierzynski pinch hit for Tom Prince in the twelfth inning and stayed in the game as catcher.
In the bottom of ninth inning, Scott Spiezio drew a one-out walk from Twins closer Eddie Guardardo, in the game to protect a 1-run lead. Julio Ramirez was called in to pinch-run. Ramirez was a nephew of Roberto Clemente. Every time he set foot on the field, you could bet the next day the LA Times would spend more time talking about the Clemente connection than anything else. It was a classic case of how baseball used to get reported - any angle a print hack could grab onto to meet a word count, he would. Far be it from the Times to ever investigate the Angels farm system and see Ramirez as an all-speed fill-in player at best. With the advent of the internet and ten years, the half-assed approach to sports reporting becomes almost hilarious in that it was considered "journalism" in its time. The Times reporters would get the hopes of Angels fans up over players of little or no consequence and then when the team failed the Times would report on what failures there were on the field instead of in the press box.
Ramirez would score from 1B on a booming double off the bat of Bengie Molina. The game would go into extras.
In the bottom of the thirteenth inning, Tim Salmon hit the first pitch of new Twins reliever Jack Cressend over the wall. It was his fifth walk off home run as an Angel. Kingfish had tied Brian Downing for the franchise record. But it also put the Angels ten games over .500 at 28-18. After a 6-14 start the Halos were 22-4 and a glimmer of magic was in the air as Salmon wasn't the only Angel matching up with the great achievements of Halos past.