Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 24 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #23, a walk off home runs by an Angel who knew a thing or two about the subject before his time in Anaheim was thru.
August 22, 1973 - 6,568 fans were in Anaheim Stadium for this Wednesday night game. Del Crandall's Brewers were three games under .500 and ten games back in the American League East. The Angels were 57-65 and fifteen back. The dog days and nights of Summer were here.
The Angels were leading 3-0 in the ninth when starting pitcher Bill Singer put two men on with one out and was replaced by Steve Barber. He walked a man to load the bases and then struck out Darrel Porter. Aurelio Monteagudo came in to to get the final out. Instead he gave up a grand slam to pinch hitter Joe Lahoud and the Angels were suddenly down 4-3.
Chris Short relieved Brewers starter Jim Slaton and got two outs before giving up a single. Frank Robinson doubled home the tying run for the Angels off of reliever Eduardo Rodriguez and the game went into extra innings.
Leroy Stanton had come in as a pinch runner for Left Fielder Tommy McCraw in the bottom of the eighth and stayed in the game. With one out in the tenth he hit a tie-breaking extra inning walk off home run off of Rodriguez in his first plate appearance of the game. Final Score: Angels 5, Brewers 4. It was the first walk off home run of Stanton's career.
Leroy Stanton was one of four players the Angels acquired for Jim Fregosi from the Mets in a trade on December 10, 1971. One of the other three players was named Nolan Ryan. But Stanon, Don Rose and Frank Estrada were part of the deal too and the numbers bear out Anaheim's belief in Stanton. They gave him every chance to be their man in Right Field.
Stanton had played all of nine games in two seasons with the Mets. He would play in 594 games over five seasons as an Angel. He was league average at the plate and a little below that in the field. In his Angels tenure he batted .247 with an OPS of .693. Of his 47 Angels Home Runs, four were walk offs. At the time that was the Angels record. Stanton shared it with the man he was traded for, Fregosi. Brian Downing would hit his fifth walk off home run in 1990.
Stanton never quite reached expectations and was left unprotected in the 1976 expansion draft. The Seattle Mariners selected him and he played for them for two seasons. His 1977 with the M's saw him accrue 2.8 WAR at age 31, his career best.