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