Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 6 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #4, the first of three the Angels would hit in 1962 and the first walk off home run in the new Dodger Stadium, where the Angels played their home games 1962-65.
April 19, 1962 - The Angels had just celebrated their home opener two days prior to a crowd of 18,416, but they were not christening their new home park. Nope, they were paying rent as a tenant at their landlord's new park - Dodger Stadium. After four seasons in Los Angeles at the Coliseum, Walter O'Malley had built a stadium, named it after his team and rented it when not in use to Gene Autry. The Dodgers played their first major league baseball game there when they hosted the Cincinnati Reds on April 10 in front of 52,564 fans.
And while it remains their home and the rise of interleague play created a more real rivalry between the Dodgers and Angels, there are a few firsts that occurred in Dodger Stadium that belong solely to the Angels franchise. Bo Belinksy would throw the first no-hitter in Dodger Stadium two weeks and two days later on May 5. On this afternoon, though, there would be two firsts for Chavez Ravine: Dodger Stadium would see its first extra inning game and its first walk off homer, all while the Dodgers were on the road away from home.
In an era of complete games, this game would feature 14 pitchers, but there would only be ten runs scored in twelve innings. Hank Bauer, the manager of the Kansas City Athletics, sent Haywood Sullivan in to pinch hit for Billy Bryan to lead off the top of the ninth inning against Angels reliever Joe Nuxhall with the A's down 2-1. Sullivan doubled to RF and even though Bill Rigney brought in a new reliever, Tom Morgan, two batters later the score was tied 2-2.
In extra innings the A's would score two runs in the top of the eleventh on a single with two men on - the second run scored because of an error by Angels centerfielder Lee Thomas throwing beyond home plate.
Down 4-2 in the bottom of the eleventh, the Angels fought back, capitalizing on a costly error of their own. With two on and no out, A's reliever Ed Rakow induced a needed grounder of the bat of Billy Moran but threw terribly to first and it was off to the races. Rigney had the foresight to bring in a pinch runner for Steve Bilko, so the baserunning went wild, two runs crossed the plate and Moran stood at 3B. The A's then created a bases-loaded mess but managed to get out of that jam, though, and sent the game to the twelfth after two runs had been scored by each team in the top and bottom of the eleventh inning.
With the score knotted at 4 apiece in the bottom of the twelfth, A's reliever made quick work of the Angels - Flyout, Groundout. And then a walk to Eddie Yost, his third BB of the game. Up came Billy Moran again, whose magic with the error in the previous inning had saved the game. This time the magic would be independent of the defense. On this Sunny Tuesday afternoon at about 4:45 PM, Billy Moran hit a tie-breaking extra-inning two-run walk off home run. It was the first walk off home run in the history of Dodger Stadium.
Final Score: Angels 6, A's 4, Dodgers missing their own stadium being broken-in big to big league drama.