Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 21 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #21, a major league first beyond being an exciting walk off...
September 9, 1971 - The major league debut on this day of Angels 2B Billy Parker was historic.
Parker became the first player in major league baseball history to hit a walk off home run in his first game in the bigs.
He had signed as a free agent in 1969 at the age of what was believed to be 22. After his playing days, it was revealed he had been born in 1942, not 1947. The rookie who made history two year later signed on the dotted line at 29 years old and not the 22 he had passed for (LINK TO A GREAT SITE WITH THAT STORY AND MORE).
The Brewers were in town for a four game series at the Big A and on this Thursday night, 6,098 came out to see the game. With Bill Parsons starting for the Brewers and Tom Murphy starting for the Angels, it was a scoreless game until the seventh, when the Brewers scored a run. They added another in the eighth.
With one out in the ninth and Sandy Alomar on 1B and Jim Fregosi on 2B, Mickey Rivers hit a two-run triple to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Billy Parker led off the bottom of the tenth with the fourth Plate Appearance of his career. He fouled out.
In the bottom of the twelfth, with two outs and the bases empty, Parker faced Milwaukee reliever Floyd Weaver. He hit a tie-breaking, extra-inning walk off solo home run. Final Score: Angels 3, Brewers 2. The newest Angel had won the game with a baseball first. Parker spent parts of three seasons with the Angels but never caught on. He was drafted int he Rule 5 by the Yankees a few years later but never reached the bigs again. He died in early 2003 after a career of director of parks and recreation for the city of Surprise, Arizona. The Spring Training home stadium shared by the Rangers and Royals is named in his honor.