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 blast that made a winner out of Clyde Wright.
August 24, 1971 - Behind the plate, the legendary Ron Luciano was calling balls and strikes and on this Tuesday night, Angels starting pitcher Clyde Wright struck out nine Washington Senators in nine innings pitched.
On the mound for manager Ted Williams was rookie right hander Pete Broberg. He struck out seven Angels through eight innings and came into the ninth with a 1-0 lead, a lead the Senators had just taken courtesy of a Dave Nelson single off of Wright for the first run of the game.
Wright's shutout was history (in eight seasons with the Angels he would throw nine). Broberg was two outs away from a complete game shutout when he walked Jim Fregosi. The potential of a game-ending double play was in order when 1B Jim Spencer stepped to the plate.
The first ever draft of amateur players took place in June of 1965. Baseball had instituted this as the rise of "bonus babies" had become a drain on team finances - High school and college players who had never played a game of professional baseball were the first free agents to extract large payouts from teams/ Labeled "Bonus Babies", their quick rise was squelched by the draft.
The Angels had the eleventh pick in the draft and with it they took 1B Jim Spencer out of Andover High School in Glen Burnie, Maryland (Johnny Bench went in the second round). On his fourth season with the big club, he was hovering right around league average in his production for the third straight season as measured by OPS+ (97, 98, 104 respectively). But he dug in against Broberg and blasted a home run into the Anaheim night.
Jim Spencer hit a come from behind walk off home run to beat the Senators. Final Score: Angels 2, Senators 1.
These were not the original Senators of baseball's sepia-toned past. After the 1960 season, the Washington Senators of yesteryear, of Walter Johnson and Bucky Harris, they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. The city of Washington got an expansion team that kept the same name. Why couldn't Minnesota just have gotten its own team? Good question, but the core problem was the owner wanted out of DC.
By 1971, the same expansion Senators had been in the league for eleven seasons and were visiting Anaheim for the last time. In 1972 they would relocate to Arlington, Texas and be known as the Texas Rangers forevermore.
Jim Spencer would be traded after five lackluster seasons to the Rangers. He would be traded back to the Angels along with a hundred grand for pitcher Bill Singer in December 1975. But he was never re-measured for a Halo. The Angels traded him a day later. He wound up getting a ring as a reserve infielder for the 1978 Yankees.
Ted Williams managed one season in Texas. In four seasons with the franchise he was 273-364 (.429).