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 #19, a ninth inning blast that made a winner out of Starting Pitcher Rudy May.
July 18, 1971 - In the first eight innings of this game, the Angels had walked three times and had three hits off of Indians starter Alan Foster. They had a run to show for it, a Tony Gonzalez sac fly had scored Sandy Alomar to give the Angels a brief lead. Rudy May started for the Angels, struck out seven but with that 1-0 lead in the sixth he allowed a double to Chuck Hinton, one of four hits he allowed. It was an RBI double because Eddie Leon was on base, one of two Cleveland batters May would walk.
The game stayed tied into the ninth and manager Lefty Phllips left May out there in the top of the ninth and this time Rudy struck out Hinton to begin a 1-2-3 ninth. Foster followed and struck out Angels CF Mickey Rivers to begin the bottom of the ninth. Tony Gonzalez singled and moved to 2B on a groundout.
With two outs, Ken McMullen stepped to the plate. He had started his major league career nine seasons prior up the road at Chavez Ravine with the Dodgers. As a backup 3B he won a ring with them in 1962.The Angels traded Rick Reichardt and Aurelio Rodirguez to the Senators for McMullen early in the 1970 season.
In a sixteen season career he accrued 30.8 Wins Above Replacement, 10.7 of which were Defensive Wins Above Replacement. But he was more than just glove, slugging almost 2/3 of his 156 homeruns in the depths of the deadball 1960s. His best homerun year was 1971, when he 21 home runs.
With Tony Gonzalez on 2B he hit a tie-breaking two-run walk off home run as one of those 21. Final Score: Angels 3, Indians 1.
The Angels traded McMullen after the 1972 season back to the Dodgers. His 9.5 WAR as an Angel (29th in Franchise history) in 1,665 Plate Appearances is just ahead of Gary Disarcina's 6.3 WAR that he accumulated in 4,032 PA as an Angel and just behind the 10.1 WAR that Mike Napoli managed in 1,801 PA. His .251 batting average is tied with Napoli for 50th all time in franchise history for players with more than 1,500 PA with the club.
Winning Pitcher Rudy May was credited with a Complete Game, one of 35 he would get as an Angel, tying him for tenth all time in club history with Bill Singer, one of the players the Angels got from the Dodgers when they traded McMullen.