Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 8 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #8, the first walk off home run hit within the city limits of Anaheim, California.
August 2, 1966 - The New York Yankees scored early and often off of Angels starter George Brunett. It was 5-0 Yanks after the top of the fifth inning. Al Downing had allowed two hits through four innings for the Bronx when Bobby Knoop led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run.
It was the same score of 5-1 when Downing, still pitching in the bottom of the eighth, gave up a two run home run to Joe Adcock. In the ninth, though, with a 5-3 lead over the Halos, it really started falling apart for New York. Tom Satriano walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth and Yankees skipper Ralph Houk pulled Downing for Pedro Ramos. Bobby Knoop grounded to 3B but Clete Boyer bobbled the ball and there were men on 1B and 2B with nobody out.
In came the legendary Whitey Ford. At 37, he was relieving more than starting but he would finish 1966 with a 2.47 ERA with 31 relief appearances and nine starts, no slouch there. He threw wide to 1B to keep Knoop close and suddenly it was men on 2B and 3B. But the veteran struck out Ed Kirkpatrick and Paul Schaal.
With two outs, Ford gave up back to back singles to Jay Johnstone and Jim Fregosi, tying the game. The future Hall of Famer had given the game away and into extra innings it went after Hal Reniff came in and got the final out. Reniff was still pitching for the Yanks in the bottom of the eleventh when Paul Schaal stepped up to bat and made hard contact with a Reniff pitch.
A young future Halos Heaven poster named YETIJUICE was at home listening to the game on the radio, here is his recollection...
it did not come close to the top of the centerfield wall. It was a sinking line drive to centerfield. Mickey Mantle charged in, dove head first for the ball, missed, got up and ran toward the fence to retrieve it as Schaal circled the bases and scored standing up. I was keeping score at home while listening to the radio. Three cheers for Don Wells and Buddy Blattner the original KMPC Angels’ radio team! One of them stated it was sad to see the great Mantle limping after that ball. Mantle would soon make the defensive downward progression to first base.
Paul Schaal hit a tie-breaking extra inning inside-the-park walk off home run. Final Score: Angels 6, Yankees 5.
The Angels had moved into Anaheim Stadium at the start of the 1966 season. This was the first walk off home run hit in the stadium.
Schaal only hit 25 home runs for the Angels in his 1,809 Plate Appearances with the Angels and only stole 21 bases. He was left unprotected in the AL expansion draft prior to the 1969 season and was selected by the Kansas City Royals. In 1974, the Royals traded him back to the Angels but at age 31, he was done around the All Star break of that year.