Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Doubleheader Baseball, Baby

One of my fondest baseball memories was made possible by a rainout. During my senior year of college, the Sox were neck and neck with the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East title. In late September, a series of storms in the Baltimore area forced the Sox and the O's to schedule a rare afternoon doubleheader. It was the last season for Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, and the home team was woeful, so Cap Noonan, John Kelleher, and I - Sox fans all - decided on a whim to try to get to Baltimore from Williamsburg, VA in time to make the first pitch of the first game.

We left the 'burg at around 9:00, and gametime was scheduled for 12:30. Cap drove while Jake studied in the back seat for an upcoming exam. The baseball gods smiled on our noble quest, parting traffic all along the Eastern Seaboard, and slowing time to aid our cause. We reached Balmer at around 12:20 - 3 hours 20 minutes from Williamsburg to Charm City is pretty damn good - just in time to park, get tix, and get into the stadium, which was flat out empty.

We spent the whole afternoon following the sun, as total attendance for the two games was 10,728 (many thanks to retrosheet for the details), and drinking watered down beer. The Sox took the first game, 2-1, behind a stellar 10-strikeout performance by Roger Clemens, who hadn't yet entered his "I get paid, so why should I keep myself in shape" phase. Heading into the 9th inning of the second game, the Sox held a 5-4 lead, and were positioned to sweep the series and tighten the race with the Jays to a game or two. Then, the ghosts of Memorial Stadium stood up for one last time, and after Cal Ripken singled in a run to tie the game at 5, and Randy Milligan walked to load the bases, Dwight Evans came to the plate against Greg Harris.

Evans, who was in his swan song as a player, batted .270 with 6 homers and 38 RBI in 1991, his final season, and only campaign with the O's after 19 standout seasons with the Red Sox. And though he was a shell of his former self, I turned to Cap and Jake and said, "We may as well leave, because Dewey's going to beat the Sox." Sure enough, Evans worked a walk, and Mike Devereaux crossed the plate with the winning run. The Sox lost 9 of 11 to end the season, including this game, and wound up fading to 7 games behind the Jays. And it was all Dewey's fault.

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