Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 25 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #25, another walk off by Leroy Stanton.
April 12, 1975 - In 1974, the Angels fired manager Bobby Winkles and brought in the much-sought after Dick Williams. Williams was the reigning world champion manager, two years running. He had wanted to jump ship to the Yankees in the 74/75 offseason. But A's owner Charlie Finley barred it from happening, explaining that Williams was still under contract. Gene Autry had been integral in Finley getting enough league votes to move the Kansas City A's to Oakland and when the Cowboy came calling, Finley let Williams out of his contract.
In his storied career, Williams took a lousy 1967 Red Sox team to the AL Pennant, won back to back championships with the A's and guided the 1984 Padres to the World Series, along with a successful late-70s stint with Montreal. The parts of three seasons he spent in Anaheim were his managerial low point. 1975 was his only full season at the helm. They went 72-89 despite seeing four walk off home runs hit that season.
But it was only the fourth game of the 1975 season and Williams seemed to be pushing all the buttons right. Starter Andy Hassler allowed three runs in ten innings pitched. He allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out nine White Sox batters. Chicago's Wilbur Wood had done much of the same thru the first nine innings - three runs on eleven hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
With one out in the bottom of the tenth, Leroy Stanton hit a solo home run off of Wood to end the game as an Angels victory. 3-1 on the young season, the Angels had beat the White Sox by the score of 4-3 in ten innings. Dick Willimas looked like a genius and his track record for winning surely made early April that much more exciting for Angels fans. In the lousy season that was to unfold, Stanton rounding the bases on a Saturday afternoon in front of 6,517 fans might have been as good as it got.