Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reliving Baseball Memories

Thanks to Powerline's Paul Mirengoff I found a cool site called Retrosheet that has box scores and play-by-play for major league games going back to 1957. The great thing about the site is it allows me to relive some of my favorite baseball memories.

Two games stand out for me, both of them 1-0 affairs. Both involve the Atlanta Braves and in both instances, the home team won.

The first one is July 25, 1992 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. Charlie Liebrandt started against Danny Jackson and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves had the lead going into the 9th inning when Alejandro Pena comes in to relieve Liebrandt. Shortstop Jay Bell singled with one out and that brought up center fielder and clutch hitter for the Pirates: Andy Van Slyke. Fortunately for us, we were in the bleachers in left center field. Van Slyke hits a fly ball that is a sure home run until Braves center fielder Otis Nixon makes a spectacular grab over the fence to rob Van Slyke of the home run and win the game for the Braves. From our vantage point we were able to watch the ball sail right into Nixon's glove. The clip of Nixon's catch was replayed numerous times for years afterward. It's even mentioned in Nixon's Wikipedia entry.

The second memorable game for me was April 6, 1993 at Wrigley Field. It was my first visit to Wrigley and one of the coldest days I'll ever remember. It was the second game of the season for the Chicago Cubs after being defeated the previous day by former Cub Greg Maddux and the Braves. Jose Guzman started for the Cubs against future hall of famer John Smoltz. The Cubs drew first blood in the bottom of the first. Rey Sanchez doubled and then Mark Grace singled him home. That was the only run the Cubs would score and it would be all they would need.

Guzman was perfect through the first seven innings. He walked Terry Pendleton to lead off the eighth inning. The crowd started booing when Guzman issued the walk. My wife, who was not paying close attention to the game (she was pretty cold so I cut her some slack) asked me why they were booing. She didn't realized that Guzman had just lost the perfect game. Deion Sanders came in to pinch run for Pendleton and then got caught stealing. David Justice then walked but Guzman settled down and got the next two batters out. Guzman lost the no-hitter in the ninth inning when he gave up a two-out single to Otis Nixon. But that was the only hit he allowed and the Cubs ended up winning 1-0.

I've only seen seven major league games in person. But I plan to see a whole lot more. Three of the ballparks I've been to don't exist any more. They are Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta), old Busch Stadium (St. Louis) and Memorial Stadium (Baltimore). Maybe I can get to the rest of the major league parks before another of these wonderful cathedrals gets torn down. At least there is a way to relive the memories even if the ballparks are no longer there. The memories will last forever.

No comments: