Pixel Perfect Memories will come out tomorrow. Tonight I'm in the mood to discuss baseball. While not a scheduled feature, from time to time I would like to take a look at some of the more amazing, unlikely play-by-play moments in history.
One of the reasons I love the game so much is that at any moment something crazy can happen. August 24, 1983 was one of those times. The Orioles were battling the Blue Jays among others for the pennant, and on this day they played host, just one game ahead. Jim Clancy and Scott McGregor had pitched decent games, and entering the 9th the Jays were ahead by two. Clancy put two men on with two out and was replaced. Benny Ayala and Al Bumbry both hit clutch singles to tie the game.
Entering the 10th, however, the Orioles had a problem. They had two catchers on their roster, Rick Dempsey and Joe Nolan. Both had been pinch-hit for and now they needed someone to play there in the 10th. Manager Joe Altobelli called on Lenn Sakata, second baseman, who had never played behind the plate in his life. The first batter for the Blue Jays, Cliff Johnson, belted a solo shot to give the Jays a one-run lead. Barry Bonnell singled. Tippy Martinez came into pitch, and Bobby Cox decided to take advantage of Sakata's never-before tested ability to throw out base runners. Here is what followed:
Barry Bonnell caught stealing (PO) 2B (P-1B)
Dave Collins walks
Collins picked off 1B (P-1B)
Willie Upshaw singled to 2B
Upshaw picked off 1B (P-1B).
That's right. Martinez picked three consecutive men off first base to end the inning, and Sakata never broke a sweat.
To add insult to injury, Cal Ripken started off the bottom half of the 10th with a home run. Then Sakata, the Orioles new catcher, hit a walk-off three run jack to win the game for the home team. The Orioles, of course, would go on to win the pennant and the World Series, while the Jays would finish nine games back. Sakata would never catch again.
Tippy would also win the next night. He pitched 103 innings in relief, going 9-3 with a 2.35 ERA. He would finish 27th in the MVP balloting. His career would end on the Twins, pitching four innings for them in 1988.
I would pay money to watch this inning live, though I doubt MLB will ever allow me to do that.