One of my greatest personal baseball thrills was when I faced Angels and Seattle Mariners star lefty Mark Langston at Angels fantasy camp in 2007 and fouled off two pitches before I walked. Afterwards, Mark told me if I didn’t swing, I would have walked on four pitches. I told him that the foul balls were a way bigger thrill than the walk. I also while we were walking to the field one morning asked him about his only World Series appearance, and in particular about the grand slam home run he gave up to my then favorite player Tino Martinez in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series (where the Yankees swept his San Diego Padres) on the pitch after what very arguably strike three. Instead of talking about the questionable pitch before the home run, which even I couldn’t believe was called a ball, Mark told me about the pitch on which Tino homered with class and without excuse. That is because in addition to being an excellent and candid broadcaster and a funny entertaining storyteller, he is a class act. Mark was a great pitcher in his prime with the Mariners (1984-1989) and Angels (1990-1997) (he also spent part of 1989 in Montreal with the Expos after being traded for Randy Johnson). He won 19 games twice, led the American League in strikeouts three times, was a four time All-Star and won 7 Gold Gloves. He won 179 games and had 2464 career strikeouts. He also probably had the best pick-off move of his era (pre Andy Pettitte). He finished his career in the bullpens of the Padres in 1998 and the Cleveland Indians in 1999 and currently broadcasts for the Angels. Here is his most memorable Opening Day.
“It probably has to be my first major league experience at an Opening Day with the Seattle Mariners in 1984. You always dream as a kid about your first time being introduced in a major league game and that is when mine came true. I didn’t pitch that game, but still it was probably the most memorable Opening Day experience for me being announced at a major league facility and at a game we played against Milwaukee. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Thanks buddy. See everyone in two. Richie
Bob Brenly caught for the San Francisco Giants from 1981-1988, left for one half season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989, and returned to the Giants where he finished his playing career that same season. He made the NL All Star team in 1984 when he had his best season, hitting .291 with 20 HRs and 80 RBIs. He helped lead the Giants to the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 with 18 HRs and 51 RBIs, but the Giants lost that series in 7 games. That was to be Bob’s only playoff appearance as a player. Bob played in one very bizarre game against the Atlanta Braves in 1986. Although known as a good defensive catcher, Bob made 4 errors in one inning. But he more than redeemed himself by homering in the 5th inning, hitting a game tying 2 run single in the 7th inning and then hitting a walk off game winning HR in the bottom of the 9th. Bob probably is more well known for managing the Arizona Diamondbacks to their first World Series championship ever in his first year as a manager in 2001. His Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven games shortly after the horrific events of 9/11 in what some call the greatest World Series ever (I went to two games including the Tino Martinez game tying HR and the Derek Jeter game winning HR in Game 4 which earned Derek the nickname “Mr. November,” but the end of Game 7 was the single worst baseball moment in my life to date). Bob’s managerial tenure ended in 2004 and he has been an excellent broadcaster since. Here is his Opening Day memory.
“For me personally, I think it would have to be the 1983 season. I had just come off my best year as a big league player and we opened against the Padres at home at Candlestick Park and, unfortunately, we lost the ball game, but I think I had 3 or 4 hits in that game and it was kind of reaffirming after having a good year in ’82. I think a lot of people thought it was a fluke season and we’ll never be able to do it again and then to start off the ’83 season that way, it felt very good. I also particularly remember that Opening Day because there was a representative from my hometown newspaper back in Coshocton, Ohio, and because I had the good game and I was a hero back home.”
In fact, Bob’s Giants lost to the San Diego Padres 16-13 and he went 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs and a home run.
See you in two. Richie