Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 69 days away. There have been one hundred walkoff homers in Angels history. This is the story of #69, the lone Walk Off Home Run by an Angels fan favorite, Jim Edmonds...
April 23, 1997 - Mark Langston gave up a solo homerun to Orlando Merced to lead of the fifth inning. The blast gave the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. It was a Wednesday night game scheduled to start at 7:40 PM and the crowd of 13,000+ probably figured this was not going well... which is how most Angels games were going in those days.
But the Angels battled back in the bottom of the inning. Pat Hentgen gave up back-to-back one out base hits to Garret Anderson and Eddie Murray. Yes, the future Hall of Famer was on the Angels in 1997. He had played with the Dodgers, Mets, Indians and now the Angels for nine seasons after his glory years with the Orioles. He played in 46 games for the Angels and never took the field - DHing exclusively; he batted .219 and hit three home runs before being released in August.
But Murray was on base this night when Gary DiSarcina drove in Anderson and he scored along with DiSar on a double by Darin Erstad, who strained his right hamstring limping into 2B. Ersty had to be helped off the field and was replaced in the lineup by Dave Hollins. In the seventh, DiSar would tie the game with a sac fly, scoring Anderson again.
With Langston off the hook, reliever Rich DeLucia went to work for the Angels, throwing three innings of scoreless relief. Paul Spoljaric was in his third inning of relief with one out in the bottom of the tenth inning when he gave up a walk off solo home run to fan favorite Jim Edmonds. Final score: Angels 5, Blue Jays 4.
This was the only walk off home run in the seven-year, 709 game Angels career of Jim Edmonds. When Torii Hunter finished his five seasons as an Angel, he had more games played wearing a Halo than Edmonds (713-709). If Edmonds had been completely healthy, who knows what records he may have had in franchise lore. His 121 homeruns are two behind the 123 that Reggie Jackson hit in five seasons as an Angel. But his circus-like catches in Centerfield and big power numbers (an .856 OPS and a 119 OPS+ in 2,951 Plate Appearances with the club) made him the Angel who got the loudest ovation for most of his time in Anaheim. And on this night, what remained of the crowd who saw a great comeback, Edmonds was who was roared for last and was therefore roared for loudest.