Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 28 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #28, a blast by an almost-unknown Angel off of a future Hall of Fame Pitcher.
September 22, 1975 - The Angels and White Sox played into the sixteenth inning on this Monday night game and only used two pitchers apiece! Frank Tanana started for the Halos and went thirteen innings, striking thirteen, allowing six hits and three walks. He gave up no runs. Jim Kaat started for the White Sox. He allowed eight hits in 8.1 innings pitched and only struck out four. He walked one but also gave up no runs.
Don Kirkwood relieved Tanana and pitched three innings of scoreless ball. Future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage pitched seven innings of relief. He came in with one out in the ninth. In the sixteenth inning he allowed a leadoff single to Leroy Stanton. Rudy Meoli bunted him over and Dave Chalk walked.
Designated Hitter Paul Dade was 1 for 5 on the night but manager Dick Williams brought in a pinch hitter. Chuck Tanner, at the helm for Chicago, stuck with "Goose" on the mound. With two on and one out, looking for the double play, Gossage served a pitch to the pinch hitter that was hit over the wall, scoring the first runs of the game. Pinch Hitter Adrian Garret hit a tie-breaking extra inning three-run walk off home run. Final Score: Angels 3, White Sox 0.
This was the latest a walk off home run had ever been hit in a game by an Angels player and the record stands to this day.
Who was Adrian Garret? This fringe fifth outfielder had played his first professional baseball game at age 18 in 1961. He spent most of his nineteen year career in the minor leagues as the property of the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs and a few other organizations before finishing pro ball three years in Japan, hanging it up with the Hiroshima Carp in 1979.
Of the four major league teams with whom he made appearances with the big club, the Angels are the one he played for the most - a whopping 66 games and 177 Plate Appearances (beating his Cubs tenure of 65 games and 95 PA). Nothing about his statistical accomplishments stick out save for hitting 43 home runs in AAA in 1971 with Tacoma in the PCL and appearing in games for the 1972 World Series Champion Oakland A's (leading one to assume he got a ring).
But the guy had no speed (4 career SB in 163 big league games), no power (11 HR), no offense (-0.8 WAR), no defense (-0.7 WAR). He played outfield, 1B and Catcher - third string at his highest ranking.
But on one night in Anaheim, he was the hero, and his walk off home run stands as only one of two (so far) hit by an Angel off of a future Hall of Famer. Adrian Garret - many great Angels have never hit a walk off bomb while this almost unknown scrub hit one of the more unique ones in club history.