Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 41 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #41, the lone walk off home run of the 1984 season for the Angels and the only one hit by Bob Boone in his long stint with the team.
July 14, 1984 - Over 40,000 fans were in attendance for a Saturday night pitching duel that went by at the brisk pace of two hours and nineteen minutes. Moose Haas tossed eight innings of one-run ball for the Brewers. The only blip was a solo home run by Bobby Grich to lead off the fourth inning. In the top of the eighth, Angels starting pitcher Ron Romanick got into trouble when he gave up a single and Bob Boone made a throwing error to put two men on. A single then loaded the bases. Jim Sundberg grounded into a double play to tie the game but the threat ended with Romanick striking out Dion James to keep the game at 1-1.
Bob Boone made a lot of errors for a man with a great defensive reputation. He made up for it with durability and amd a league-leading CS% (Caught-Stealing-Percentage). In his first year as an Angel he led the league throwing out 58% of potential base stealers. His lowest percentage in his seven years as an Angel was 40% at age 40. He came to the team after many years with the Phillies where he had been an all star and won a World Series in 1980.
Boone stayed in baseball a long time. He started over 2,000 games at Catcher. Nine years older than Mike Scioscia when the future Angels manager was in his prime with the Dodgers, Boone regularly matched him on defense and more than a few seasons on offense in the years they played for the cross-town rivals.
Is Bob Boone a Hall of Famer? His numbers are greatly assisted by the longevity. He caught 290 baseball games after the age of 40. Mike Scioscia didn't catch a game after age 33. In his years with the Angels, Boone caught 962 Games, the all time most. Buck Rodgers is second at 894. That is basically the franchise catching for the 1960s and 80s. Bengie Molina caught 695 Games under the Halo. He is probably not a Hall of Famer, but he is damn close and is certainly the gold standard with the glove behind the plate in Halo lore.
Bob Boone remains the franchise leader in two categories. He amassed 14.5 dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement), the most by any Angel. Three of his seasons in uniform rank in the Top Ten for dWAR. Always near the bottom of the lineup, Boone's 90 Sacrifice Hits are the team record.
One of seven hits Moose Haas gave up was a double to Boone, but he was left stranded on 2B in the bottom of the seventh. Tom Tellmann relieved Haas for the ninth inning and had a 1-2-3 inning. Romanick put on two base runners in the top of the tenth inning but John McNamara left him in, and he got out of the mess.
Tellmann pitched to one batter in the bottom of the tenth. Catcher Bob Boone. The veteran at 36 years old raised his average on the season to .198 with a hit. The hit was a walk off home run. On deck was shortstop Rob Picciolo, batting .193 ... Picciolo would become the Angels bench coach in 2011 when Ron Roenicke left the Angels coaching staff to manage these very same Brewers.
This was Bob Boone's only walk off home run as an Angel. It was the only one fans would see hit in Anaheim during the 1984 season. But the 40,000+ got their money's worth, and off the bat of a catching legend.