Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 31 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #31, the first walk off home run against the new expansion Toronto Blue Jays.
June 8, 1977 - The first foreign team to ever play the Angels in Anaheim Stadium was the Toronto Blue Jays for a night game on Tuesday, June 7th 1977. They won that game by a score of 6-3 in front of 10,239 fans. Star Wars had opened less than two weeks earlier, so you can forgive the Orange County faithful for choosing to watch aliens from a galaxy far, far away instead of from nearby Canada.
Gene Autry was an owner who embraced free agency like few others. After the 1976 season he signed Don Baylor on November 16, Joe Rudi on November 17 and Bobby Grich on November 24.
And yet the results early in the season were a club hovering near .500 with a familiar refrain to Angels fans: Nolan Ryan pitching a masterpiece and getting no run support.
In this game Nolan Ryan struck out nineteen Toronto batters in ten innings, allowing only one earned run on five hits and two walks. The Angels offense, meanwhile managed only one run on seven hits, all singles, and two walks over twelve innings.
Bobby Grich solved things in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. As the first batter of the inning, he hit a tie-breaking walk off home run to end the game. Final Score: Angels 2, Blue Jays 1.
Bobby Grich would go on to become the greatest Second Base Man in Angels history, easily one of the top free agent signings in club history. He is the only man to play more than 1,000 games at 2B for the club. He is in the top ten in club history for hits, doubles and home runs. He is fourth in WAR, sixth in OnBase Percentage and in runs scored as an Angel as well. Suffice to say, he is all franchise. Autry got his money's worth. On this night, he was a new Angel making a mark, bringing his team to .500 at 26-26 in the young season, but he was laying the foundation of a legacy.