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15 Days Until Opening Day

Counting Down to Opening Day, We Are Counting Down The 100 Walk Off Homers in Angels History. #15 was the second walk off home run in the Angels career of Jay Johnstone.


Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 15 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #15, a Jay Johnstone blast that beat the Red Sox.

July 29, 1969 - The United States had put a man on the Moon nine days earlier but nobody could seem to solve the losing ways of the Angels franchise. On July 29 they were 39-60 in this, baseball's first season of divisional play.

The Red Sox had been in the World Series two years prior and were a powerhouse in the much tougher AL East. At 56-44 they were fourteen games behind first place Baltimore. The Angels were sixteen games behind Boston. Let's hear it for divisional play!

The Angels were up 3-0 after four but the Red Sox scored three in the top of the fifth to tie it. With one out and one still on in that inning, Clyde Wright relieved Tom Murphy and got Carl Yastrzemski to ground out. Cleanup hitter Rico Petrocelli was up and Wright intentionally walked him. Runners were on 1B and 2B when he got Joe Lahoud to foul out.

Fast forward to the ninth inning and Wright is still pitching. He gives up a leadoff single but gets a strikeout and double play to send the tie game into the bottom of the ninth. Murphy had pitched 4.1 innings, Wright 4.2 in a 3-3 game. Jim Lonborg had started the game for Boston and pitched four innings. Vicente Romo had relieved him and gone four as well. Manager Dick Williams sent Romo out to pith the bottom of the ninth.

Jay Johnstone stepped up to the plate. Romo would not be credited with any more innings pitched in this game - Johnstone broke the tie and won the game with one swing of the bat. Johnstone hit a tie-breaking solo walk off home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning. Final Score: Angels 4, Red Sox 3.

Clyde Wright was the winning pitcher. It was his only victory of the season. After his 1-8 1969 with only five starts in 41 appearances and an ERA+ of 85, though, something clicked. He started exclusively in 1970 and went 22-12 with a 128 ERA+ and was one of the pillars of the Angels pitching staff for the next five seasons.