Thursday, July 6, 2017

Friday Five: Five Coolest Baseball Games I Have Seen In Person

It's been a long time since I have made one of these Friday Five posts.  I should make this a regular thing again.  I know there were several regular readers who used to really like these, so to reward your patience I am going to double the normal five and go with ten for this week.  Really, I came up with five games, then had an honorable mention or two.  That quickly ballooned into another five games.  The Friday Ten just sounds terrible though.  Here's the list.

10.  July 22, 1986 San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

A lot of Cardinals fans will tell you that the Gold Standard for baseball brawls was the Cardinals and Reds from 2010 with Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina.  Maybe an older fan will tell you it's the time Will Clark tried to take out Jose Oquendo and it ended up in a huge fight between the two and Ozzie Smith.  They're all wrong.   I went to a baseball game once for my mother's birthday and this happened.....

The video quality is not great, but this whole thing was basically set off by Whitey Herzog and Roger Craig, the two managers of the teams.  You know it's good when the St. Louis Police get involved, Mike Heath has to restrain Vince Coleman by carrying him off the field, and fans throwing beer at Chris Brown.  It appears that Tito Landrum might have been some sort of peace maker throughout.

9. April 14, 2006 Toledo Mud Hens vs. Durham Bulls 

My first Opening Day in Durham had a pretty memorable finish.  The Bulls were losing for the entire game including a 4-1 deficit entering the ninth inning.  Good old Lee Gardner pitched the ninth inning for the Mud Hens, but walked Shawn Riggans, Brent Butler, and Darnell McDonald to load the bases for the Devil Rays top infield prospect B.J. Upton.  As I remember it, there was not much doubt that the ball was over the fence.  A great way to start off my first full season of Durham Bulls baseball.  Here is the box score.

I don't remember Ryan Ludwick being on the Mud Hens that season.  See, these posts are already doing me some good.  I saw a Cardinals player and I don't even remember it.  

7.  July 16, 2006 Columbus Clipper vs. Durham Bulls 

This was the first no-hitter that I ever attended, but I did not stay for the whole game.  This is what happens when you go out to a game with a bunch of people that you work with and they say, "let's walk across the street and eat garlic fries and drink beer".  The garlic fries at the restaurant across the street from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park are excellent, but I deeply regret my decision.  Hammel ended up pitching into the ninth inning, but was at 125 pitches when manager John Tamargo pulled him out the game.  I didn't see it.  

Requisite picture of Jason Hammel pitching in Triple A.  

In the end Juan Salas came in and got the last two outs of the game.  The Clippers actually ended up scoring a run at the end of the game because Wes Bankston and Delmon Young committed errors on the same play, a ball hit by Carlos Pena, which was followed up by a wild pitch by Salas.  Always had this terrible feeling that I would not see another no-hitter ever and that this was the dumbest time to ever leave a game worked out okay though. Read on.

6. October 5, 1985 Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

I moved to St. Louis at some point in the summer of 1984.  I know I went to a baseball game or two that summer and I know I went to a few during the 1985 season too.  The best game out of my first two years living in St. Louis was the second to last game of the year between the Cardinals and Cubs.    The Cardinals and Mets were in a heated pennant race, with no wild cards at that time, which meant you had to win your division.  This was the game where the Cardinals clinched the National League East by beating the Cubs 7-1.

Ozzie made this great play, Cesar Cedeno hit a home run, and John Tudor pitched great.  Definitely one of my better memories watching baseball as a kid in St. Louis.  

5. (tie)  September 5, 1998 Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

I went to this game for a friend's birthday.  Drove home from college and watched the game.  It was McGwire and it was 1998.   I was actually sitting in left field for this game, but I was over about three sections towards center field and up about twenty rows from where the ball landed.  

The whole home run chase thing has lost some of its luster over time due to the steroid stuff, Bonds breaking the record again a few years later, etc.  It was something that was really important to baseball in St. Louis at the time it happened though.  If you could ask the 21 year old version of me about this game when it happened, or maybe a month after, it would have been higher than 5.  Same with the next one.  

5. (tie) September 7, 1998 Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

Same kind of stuff as the previous moment.  I thought this one was a little bit better, still going with a tie though, since it came against the Cubs.  Sosa was there and the Cubs were high fiving McGwire running around the bases.  Something always great about a Cubs and Cardinals game.  This one was the best I have seen of that rivalry.  

4. July 1, 2015 USA Baseball National College Team vs. Cuban National Baseball Team 

This was the second no-hitter I watched in the span of a year and the third one overall.  If you keep reading I promise you there is another one.  The summer time version of the USA Baseball National Team is made up of college players.  In this case the no-hitter was thrown by three pitchers from the SEC: Tanner Houck from Missouri, A.J. Puk from Florida, and Ryan Hendrix from Texas A&M.  All three are now in the Minors.  The final out....

This was a cool game to watch because it was a bunch of college kids taking on Cuban players who are in a professional league back home.  If you have never been to a USA Baseball game in Cary, NC the crowd tends to have more scouts than fans.  It's why there isn't a ton of noise at the end of the game when Hendrix gets the final out.  The one ding against this game is the fact that two of the Cuban players, both started the game, defected after the game.  Don't get me wrong, the three pitchers are great, but I have often wondered how much the Cubans were into the game.  

3.  April 26, 2014 Scranton Railriders vs. Durham Bulls 

The second no-hitter I saw, but the first one that I watched in its entirety.  I went to this game because my brother was in town for something work related.  We sat behind the Scranton dugout and watched Luis Sojo coach third base for the Yankees Triple A team.  I think I first noticed that Montgomery had a no-hitter going sometime in the fifth.  

Montgomery pitched into the ninth inning, but was pulled out of the game by the Rays.  Brad Boxberger finished the no-hitter off with a ground out and a strikeout.  Montgomery actually just missed a perfect game, walking just one batter, which happened to be former Bulls player Russ Canzler.  

2. September 27, 1998 Montreal Expos vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

A younger version of me would have put this at number one all day long.  I still love Mark McGwire as a player, still love what the home run race in 1998 did for baseball, and still remember the excitement this generated.  As previously stated though, it's luster has been somewhat diminished.  

Still a pretty awesome moment to witness.  I consider myself a pretty fortunate to have seen as many baseball games as I have in my life, not many people have seen something like this before.  

1.  September 15, 1991 New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

I went to tons of Cardinals games while I was in high school with my father on Sunday afternoons.  The Cardinals were not good for most of my teen years, but they had a few good players and a few bright spots along the way.  Probably the best player on those teams was center fielder Ray Lankford. He's really an under appreciated player in the history of the team who is in the all-time top 10 in dozens of offensive categories.  Yet, he's not in the team's Hall of Fame likely because he's the only player on those top 10 lists who spent the majority of his career playing on bad teams.  Ted Simmons might fit that too. 

The best moment I had watching Lankford came early in his career against the Mets when he hit for the cycle.  It was a great moment at the time, but I think it has become a little bit better with time just for the fact that I am pretty doubtful I will see another player hit for a cycle again.  It could happen, but the odds are heavily against it.  

Here is the box score from Baseball-Reference.  

While I am really into collecting Ray Lankford cards, I also have several non-baseball card items of his too.  Probably my favorite item is my scorecard from that game.  I wrote in pencil, so I try not to take it out to often.  

While this is my best baseball moment, I am always open to further suggestions if someone wanted to hit four home runs in a game I attend, or pitch a perfect game.  I will have to revisit this post in a few years and see if it has changed at all.  

1 comment:

  1. You've got a great memory. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific baseball games where historical stuff happened. It's also 12:34 in the morning and I probably should have been asleep 3 hours ago. Oh well... great post.