Back on November 30th, 2008 I posted an entry about my fantastic year of baseball-related stuff. Included in that entry was the photo you see below.
It’s me at a ball game back when I was roughly 10 years old… that’s what I thought, anyway. Well, curiosity got the better of me and I started checking around to see what I could find out based on the information I could pick up from the picture. Let me tell you, Baseball-Reference.com and Baseball Almanac.com are magical, wonderful, inspirational places to visit when you’re bored and in front of a computer. Not only did I figure out when this picture was taken, I learned everything about the game that day. I’d like to share it with you.
I started with me. I look about ten or eleven. I guessed that based on my pudgy face and the logos I saw on my shirt and hat that this game took place in 1993 or so… and obviously this game happened before Angel Stadium’s big renovation. It’s a day game… that narrows things down a bit. Also, The Angels are at home playing against the White Sox. Little by little I pieced together what I could by looking at the details of this pic. See the catcher? Two things… enlarge the image and you can see his name ends in “RE” and he’s up out of the crouch. So, I thought, “How many catchers did the White Sox have between 1992 and 1995 (a broad span, just to be certain)?” Answer: one. Michael Eugene “Mike” LaValliere whose nickname (besides Mike) was Spanky played for the Chi Sox from 1993 to 1995. Now, why would he be up on his feet like that? A wild pitch, maybe? I figured that the batter looked a bit relaxed so I assumed that there was an intentional walk going on.
Are you bored? Because this was really exciting for me to piece together. Day game. Angels/White Sox. Spanky’s catching. He only played 142 games for the White Sox and in how many of those games did a pitcher intentioally walk a batter? And who’s the home plate umpire? He’s wearing #33 so that helped a lot. Man, I love old baseball stats. And who’s that batter? A large, right handed batter who looks to be African-American and who is worth walking intentionally…
It was like a treasure hunt. I’ll cut to the chase:
The above picture was taken on August 7th, 1994. Pitcher Dennis Cook is intentionally walking Bo Jackson in the 8th inning. The ump you see is Durwood Merrill (who umped until 1999) and though you can’t see him, Harold Reynolds (who now works for ESPN) is on deck. Tim Salmon doubled earlier in the inning and is on second base… and the third base umpire you see in the background is Joe Brinkman.
It makes sense… this crazy photo. My uncle, who took the photo and brought me to this and many games, would never have paid for such good seats. I’m certain we snuck down there to get a picture as Bo was batting because my uncle thought it was cool–he’s got the same last name as me. Also, this game was on August 7th… I usually got to go to a game for my birthday which would have been that week… I would have just turned eleven.
The attendance that day was 21,921. Not bad, right… well, at that time the stadium was still used for baseball AND football (the Rams played there) and the capacity was 64,593. No wonder it looks so empty… plus, if OC fans were anything like they are now most of them have left by the 8th inning. This game went 12! It was probably a great game and I wish that I remembered it… ah, photos. The Angels lost that day, 10-5. The White Sox tied it at 5 in the ninth and then scored five more runs in the 12th. Game over. But look at that smile on my face!
Seven weeks until the World Baseball Classic!