Thursday, January 12, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #70 Juan Samuel

On July 31st, 1984 I went to Wrigley Field with 6 of my friends to catch the Phillies and the Cubs. It was a Tuesday. We had all graduated from high school a couple of weeks earlier and felt like we were "men of the world" going to a ballgame with no supervision.

It was one of those magical summer days in Chicago. Perfect weather. The reigning NL Cy Young award winner, John Denny was on the mound for the Phillies facing journeyman Rich Bordi. At the time, the Cubs were only a half game out of first in the NL East... on the way to their first playoff appearance in 39 seasons.

Cubs third-baseman Ron Cey smashed a home run in the bottom of the second inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Garry Maddox led off the top of the third with a single to left, but was gunned down by Gary Matthews trying to stretch it into a double.

That was basically it. The Phillies were retired inning after inning by Bordi. The only base runner the Phils could muster was an eighth inning walk to Mike Schmidt. Going into the top of the ninth, with a seemingly insurmountable 1-0 lead, Rich Bordi quickly retired Tim Corcoran and then Sixto Lezcano. He was one out away from a 1 hit shutout. Cubs fans rose to their feet to cheer the final out by.... Juan Samuel.

Samuel, in his second year in the big leagues, had other plans. On the second pitch he smashed a Bordi fastball onto the batters eye tarp in center. Shut out, gone. Complete game, gone. Wrigley Field went silent, except of course, for me. I yelled and hooted, celebrating the last gasp game tying home run as only an 18 year old could. Loudly.

The game went into extra innings and was decided in the 12th when Juan Samuel singled to lead off the inning, stole second, moved to third on a Tim Stoddard wild pitch, and scored on a Von Hayes fly ball.


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