Saturday, March 3, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #29 Don Baylor

October 12, 1986. Anaheim, California. Angel Stadium.

It was Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series. The Angels held a 3-1 series lead against the Boston Red Sox. In previous seasons, that would have been enough to send them to the World Series, but starting in 1985 the League Championship Series was expanded from the 'best of 5' to the 'best of 7' games.

In the game, California looked like they were heading to their first-ever trip to a World Series after Bobby Grich homered (off of Dave Henderson's glove) in the sixth to give the Angels a 3–2 lead. Pinch hitter Rob Wilfong appeared to put the final nail in the Red Sox coffin with an RBI double in the seventh, extending the Angels lead to 5–2 headed into the ninth.

Starter Mike Witt allowed a Bill Buckner single to start the top of the ninth, but after he struck out Jim Rice, it looked as if he was going to notch his second complete game victory of the series. Up strolled former Angel AL MVP, Don Baylor who worked the count full before smashing a dramatic home run into left center field. Suddenly it was a 5-4 game.

The Red Sox & Angels added more dramatics and the Sox eventually won Game 5. They went on to win the Series, only to lose in similar fashion to the Mets. For Don Baylor, he had to wait for a World Series ring with Twins the next season. However, 1986 was the first of three straight World Series appearances, each with a different team.


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