Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 7 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #7, the first walk off home run by Jim Fregosi and the final walk off home run hit by an Angel at Dodger Stadium.
June 19, 1963 - This was the first game of a doubleheader. It was finished in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth in one hour and 45 minutes. The second game, also nine innings, took three hours, so there is that...
Ed Rakow started for the Kansas City Athletics and Dan Osinski started for the Angels. It was a 2-1 game in favor of the A's in the bottom of the ninth inning when Felix Torres led off with a weak groundout. Pinch hitter Albie Pearson did what he did best - he walked. Hank Foiles pinch hit for the pitcher and Joe Koppe pinch ran for Pearson.
Foiles doubled. It was men on 2B and 3B with one out. Jim Fregosi came up. One would think that the intentional walk would have been in play with the hope of getting on-deck hitter Billy Moran to ground out and end the game, but skipper Eddie Lopat had Rakow pitch to Fregosi and the shortstop responded with a come from behind three-run walk off home run. Final Score: Angels 4, A's 2.
Jim Fregosi was an unheralded superstar for the expansion Angels. His 43.3 WAR in 5,945 Plate Appearances is still the best in franchise history, followed by TIm Salmon's 37.1 in 7,039 PA. His 7.7 and 7.5 WAR seasons of 1964 and 1970 respectively, stood as single season marks until the new millennium and still rank third and fourth all time single season franchise marks.
He is still a Top 5 All Time Angel in Games Played, At Bats, Plate Appearances and Runs Scored, Hits, Total Bases, Walks and Doubles. He is still the teams all time triples leader. Names like Salmon, Anderson, Downing and Guerrero share a place with Fregosi, and he did it all in the deadball era when the Angels were not only second fiddle to the Dodgers, they were tenants of the Brookly Landgrabbers as well.
For four seasons (1962-65) the Angels were tenants at Dodger Stadium, referred to as Chavez Ravine in official Angels material. Fregosi played in a long shadow. The Angels hit four walk off home runs there with none coming in 1964 or 65. Fregosi's blast in this first game of a doubleheader was the last Angel walk off home run in Dodger Stadium. It would be three years and three weeks before an Angels batter hit another walk off homer, in which time the Angels would have found and built their own true home... in Anaheim.