Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 56 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #56...
July 4, 1989 - The Anaheim Stadium crowd of 62,000+ might have been drawn by the postgame fireworks display, but it got a big blast to make those little sparkles seem miniscule by comparison.
Mike Witt faced Kevin Brown, who had appeared in all of five games prior to this season. He would go on to fame as baseball first $100 Million dollar pitcher but his 1989 salary was $72,500.
Jack Howell hit a two-run blast off Brown in the third inning. The Rangers scored single runs in the fifth and sixth to tie it.
Willie Fraser relieved Witt after that sixth inning and pitched three shutout innings. Brown stayed in the game into the bottom of the ninth. He gave up a one-out double to Wally Joyner who advanced to third base on a Brian Downing groundout.
What would you do with a man on 3B and two outs with Chili Davis in his prime coming up to bat? Rangers manager Bobby Valentine intentionally walked him in order to get a force out or a fly out from Angels RF Tony Armas.
Tony Armas was a member of the 1986 Boston Red Sox who dramatically beat the Angels in the ALCS playoffs. He was a free agent well into the 1987 season when the Angels signed him to a three year deal (actually two and a half) on July 1, 1987. In 208 games over three seasons in the outfield he put up an OPS+ of 103 (100 being league average). A veteran at the time, he had been part of the 1977 trade to Oakland for Phil Garner and part of the 1982 trade to Boston for Carney Lansford.
Armas had led the league in home runs with 43 back in 1984. In his time in an Angels uniform Tony Armas hit 27 home runs. One of them was on 128th pitch of this game, the 19th pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning. Tony Armas hit a tie-breaking three-run walk off home run deep down the Left Field line.
Final Score: Angels 5, Rangers 2 and the fireworks show demoted from headliner to closing act in favor of the veteran Tony Armas.