Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 40 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of Walk Off Home Run #40, a 4-1 victory over John Tudor and the Red Sox.
April 30, 1983 - Tommy John was the starting pitcher for the Angels on this Saturday night game in front of 39,000+ fans. He had faced the minimum through three when he allowed a single to Wade Boggs. The fair ball hit back up the middle ricocheted of off his wrist and he had to be taken out of the game for precautionary reasons. He would pitch agians on may 9 and within a month would have a complete game victory under his belt.
Twenty Two-year old Mike Witt came in to relieve the veteran. He promptly got Dwight Evans to ground into a double play and did not allow a base runner until the seventh inning.
Meanwhile John Tudor was having his way with the Halos. In the bottom of the eighth inning he gave up a home run to Juan Beniquez to break a scoreless tie. Witt was in line for the win when Andy Hassler came in to pitch the top of the ninth. Two batters later there were two on and nobody out. Enter Luis Sanchez. He induced anouther double play from Dwight Evans, but Jim Rice followed with a single to score the runner on 3B and the 1-1 tie game went into extra innings.
After ten innings, Tudor was done and former Angels reliever Mark Clear came in to pitch the bottom of the eleventh inning. Clear let two men on and with one out, the Designated Hitter's spot was up to bat. In the ninth inning, DH Reggie Jackson had walked and Rob Wilfong was called in as a pinch runner. He never scored but manager John McNamara was not going to let him bat. Rookie Daryl Sconiers was called in to pinch hit.
Boston's manager Ralph Houk kept Clear in with the possibility of an inning-ending double play and a nervous rookie in the batter's box. Sconiers had two career home runs to his name when he was announced as a pinch hitter. He stepped up to the plate, hit the ball and touched the plate after rounding the bases on his third career home run, a tie-breaking extra inning three run walk off home run. Final Score: Angels 4, Red Sox 1
In Angels lore, the tragedies of Nick Adenhart and Lyman Bostock loom large, but what happened to Daryl Sconiers was also sad. He batted .274 and hit 8 HR in a part-time role in 1983 but his final game would come just two seasons later as his cocaine habit took his talent and money. He wound up homeless in the Inland Empire, resurfacing twenty years later in a newspaper article about local transients working to turn their lost lives around.
We can blame the killers of Nick and Lyman, but to know someone did it to his own self brings out a certain cool pity in anyone with a heart.