There was a point between the end of the Timber
Rattlers season and getting back to work in the office that I started to make a
list. The list was of all the major league baseball games I have been to
as a fan*. There have been a lot.
There was one game at Coors Field, one game at PNC Park, and three at Wrigley Field. But, the vast majority of major league games I have attended were Brewers games at Milwaukee County Stadium.
I was at Henry Aaron Appreciation Night, saw Dennis Lamp almost throw a no-hitter, cheered on the Brewers in game ten and eleven of the 1987 season, and witnessed Teddy Higuera's last start before the injury that claimed two years of his career. The list filled an entire legal sized sheet of paper and those were just a few of the ones that I remembered off the top of my head.
There are other games that I remember attending - a game against the Tigers where my Dad and I sat in those old Deluxe Mezzanine seats on the first base side, a game against in the Blue Jays I went to with my grandfather and a cousin, and several games that were Brewers/Pepsi Fan Club nights. There was Coca-Cola Bat Night, Brewers Tube Socks Day, and Rain Poncho Night, and many other giveaways that are probably somewhere. But, I can't recall the dates right off the top of my head and more research will be needed.
This all gave me an idea for a regular weekly feature on Rattler Radio. A look at major league games I have attended as a fan.
When Flashback Friday was launched a few years ago, the first edition of that feature appeared as a column on Mehring Monday as a sort of a Poorly Disguised Pilot - think how NCIS: Los Angeles started as the two part Legend episode of NCIS or how NCIS started as a two part episode of JAG.
Major League Memory Lane starts with one of my favorite games and one of the most unexpected wins at Count Stadium.
In the summer of 1989, I was a production intern at LAZER 103 in Milwaukee. Three days a week, I dubbed commercials from reel-to-reel to cartridges, helped produce commercials with Derek Benson - real name Scott Stocki, worked with Bob & Brian after they got done with their morning show, and learned about radio. Plus, I got to play softball on Wednesday nights for the LAZER Warriors. It was an unpaid internship, but I did receive an excellent jersey that was personalized with my name and - just before I went back to classes for my junior year - tickets to a Brewers game against the Oakland A's on September 1.
Date: September 1, 1989
Opponent: Oakland A's
Seats: Behind the First Base Dugout
With: Scott Stocki
The Brewers entered this game two games under .500 (67-69) and were in fourth place in the American League East. They trailed the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, both of whom were tied for first place, by six games. The Athletics were in the midst of their Bash Brothers run. They were 81-53 and leading the AL West by 2.5 games over the Kansas City Royals and the California Angels.
Chris Bosio (14-9) was the starting pitcher for the Brewers and Bob Welch (15-7) made the start for Oakland.
Milwaukee took an early 1-0 lead when Glenn Braggs singled, stole second, and scored on a Rob Deer double in the bottom of the second.
But, the A's came back in the top of the third when Braggs committed a two out error on a fly ball to left off the bat of Rickey Henderson. That misplay allowed Walt Weiss to score from second to tie the game.
Weiss would commit an error in the bottom of the third that led to an unearned run. BJ Surhoff looked like he hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play. But, Weiss threw the ball away to first base and Surhoff took second on the play. Paul Molitor, who was playing third base in this game, put the Brewers back in front with another double for a 2-1 lead. (I may need to do more research into this, but I am positive that Paul Molitor never had a bad game when I went to see the Brewers at County Stadium).
The A's tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. Jose Canseco singled to start the inning. A one out single by Ron Hassey brought Mark McGwire to the plate. Bosio struck out Mcgwire, but Canseco and Hassey attempted a double steal. Not only was that successful, but Canseco scored the tying run when Surhoff sailed his throw to third into left field.
Notice the purely coincidental pattern? The player that scored a run, committed an error in the next half inning to allow a run to score. I thought it was weird at the time. It still is weird today.
Braggs made it 3-2 Milwaukee with a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Braggs was an amazing talent and that home run was his fourteenth of the season.
Oakland took their first lead of the game with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Hassey singled off Bosio. Then, McGwire hit a home run. I remember the crack of the bat and the audible gasp from the crowd as the ball traveled over the fence. The 1989 season was the third full season for McGwire, the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year. It was his 25th homer of the season and the A's were up 4-3.
Milwaukee rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Molitor and Robin Yount singled to start the inning. (I may be biased, but I seriously doubt that Robin Yount ever had a bad game when I saw him play in person). Greg Brock walked to load the bases. Braggs knocked in Molitor with a grounder to McGwire at first.
In the seventh, the other Bash Brother stepped up for his turn. Canseco blasted a home run, his eleventh of the season, to put the A's up 5-4. I believe the comments in the seats around us are not printable on a family website, but most of them had to do with the distance of the home run.
At this point in the A's Dynasty (AL Champs from 1988-1990), if they have a one run lead this late in the game, it is over. Rick Honeycutt came on in relief for the seventh. He only allowed a two out single to Molitor. In the eighth, Dennis Eckersley replaced Honeycutt and struck out Mike Felder, Braggs, and Deer in order to send the game to the ninth. By the way, Mike "Tiny Felder" was pinch-hitting for Greg Brock to leadoff the eighth inning in a one-run game. Brock hit 12 homers in 1989. Felder hit three that season. Brock was a lefty and Felder was a switch-hitter. Both would have been hitting from the left side against the right-handed Eckersley.
The A's probably should have added an insurance run in the ninth inning. Rickey Henderson tripled to start the frame against Tony Fossas. But, a lineout to short by Carney Lansford, a walk to Canseco, a strikeout of Dave Parker, and a 1-3 grounder by Hassey ended the inning and the Brewers were down 5-4 heading to the ninth.
Eckersley got Vaughn to pop out for the first out. Joey Meyer pinch hit for Ed Romero, but grounded out to third. So, the Brewers are down to their last out with nobody on base and trailing 5-4 against a the dominant closer of the era. Eckersley was 28-for-30 in save opportunities through August 31, 1989. The last time he allowed a run, it was July 28. His scoreless streak had reached 17-2/3 innings. The Eck gave up ten runs TOTAL in 1989 over 51 appearances (57-2/3 innings). But, baseball is awesome.
Bill Spiers singled to keep the ninth inning alive. Then, BJ Surhoff lined a pitch to left. Rickey Henderson went ran a long way as the ball kept going away from him...and the ball glanced just off his glove to for an RBI double to tie the game 5-5. The crowd - which is what you would call an attendance of 17,456 - went nuts.
I missed seeing this reaction from Eckersley, but Cliff Christl caught it and wrote about it in the Milwaukee Journal: As Rickey Henderson chased the ball down to his glove side, Eckersley pumped his arms in triumph. However, it was a premature show of emotion. Henderson had slowed down and the ball hit off his glove for a double.
We were denied the opportunity to watch Joey Meyer play second base for Romero in the top of the tenth and Gus Polidor went in to play second while Chuck Crim took over for Fossas. Crim struck out McGwire and Dave Henderson to start the top of the tenth. A grounder to Polidor by Weiss was anti-climactic after those two Ks.
We sensed a Brewers win in the bottom of the tenth as Todd Burns took the hill. The premonition proved correct. Yount singled. Terry Francona singled. A grounder by Braggs moved the runners up a base. Deer was walked intentionally. That brought Greg Vaughn to the plate.
Vaughn singled to left. Yount scored. Brewers won! It was a great way to end my summer at LAZER 103.
There was an odd echo to this game almost two weeks later in Oakland. It was September 13. The Brewers were down 6-4 in the top of the ninth inning. Surhoff singled with one out and Vaughn hit a two-run homer to tie the game 6-6. Unfortunately, Crim gave up a leadoff homer to Dave Henderson in the bottom of the ninth and the Brewers lost that game 7-6.
Paul Molitor: 3-for-5, run, RBI
Robin Yount: 2-for-5, run
Chris Bosio: 7.1IP, 11H, 5R, 3ER, 1BB, 7K
Baseball Reference WPA Chart
Retrosheet.org Boxscore & Play-by-play
Google Newpaper Archive of Milwaukee Journal story about game
*-Yes. This is how I spend my vacation time. Really. I would ask for help, but I don't know how.