Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 68 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #68, the very first Walk Off in the history of the Anaheim Angels.
April 4, 1997 - The first game ever played by the Anaheim Angels was on April 2, 1997 against the Red Sox. Troy Percival blew a 5-2 lead in the ninth and the newly minted uniforms, team name and manager, Terry Colins) lost 6-5 in embarrassing fashion.
When Troy Percival entered this contest, the third game of the season, the Angels were tied 4-4 with the Indians. It had been scoreless since the third inning. Percival got a confidence boost pitching a scoreless tenth inning. The same cannot be said for Dennis Springer who gave up a two-run double to Tony Fernandez in the top of the eleventh. Mike Holtz mopped up the frame but it was 6-4 Tribe going into the bottom of the eleventh.
Reliever Paul Shuey gave up back to back singles to Darin Erstad and Luis Alicea. Manager Mike Hargrove stuck with him even after he walked Jim Edmonds to load the bases. Tim Salmon drove them all home with a walk off grand slam/ Final Score: Angels 8, Indians 6.
The first Walk Off Home Run hit by the Anaheim Angels was a grand slam hit by the man who is arguably the most identified with the team of that name. The franchise carried that name for eight seasons, 1997 - 2004 and in that time hit 19 walk off home runs, two of which were grand slams. Terry Collins would only see four of them as skipper. Tim Salmon is the only player to hit a walk off home run for the California Angels and the Anaheim Angels.
Salmon is one of three Angels to play for those two incarnation of the franchise and the one that follows, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Garret Anderson went 2 for 5 and Tory Percival had that bounce-back inning pitched. But it was the swing of the Kingfish, only one of seven walk off homers out of the 100 hit between 1961 and 2012 to bring the team back from a deficit of two or more runs. It was one of six he would hit for the only major league club he ever played for and it was his only walk off grand slam, one of eight in team history.