Tiger Stadium, Detroit, 1984
If you are a Detroit fan, you certainly remember Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, when the Tigers won it all. My entire family attended: Mom, three brothers and their wives or girlfriends, a couple of neighbors, and my grandmother. My dad was not sitting with us, as he was down in his box where he sat for almost every home game: Dad was the VP of stadium operations.
Dad’s office was right down the hall from the umpires’ room, a small office where the players could go to make a personal call. After the celebration on the field, we all walked into his office and saw the World Series trophy sitting in the middle of his desk. It was there for safe keeping after the TV lights were turned off and the real celebration had begun. We drank champagne and toasted the players as they wandered in from the clubhouse to take pictures. By the way, we have zero photos of this event as we used all of our film during the game … ouch!
As the night ended, I wandered out into the hallway leading to the clubhouse. I stopped as I heard a familiar voice in the “personal phone call” room. I stopped outside and realized it was Detroit manager Sparky Anderson. He was on the phone with his father in California. As the tears streamed down his cheeks he told his dad, “We won, Dad, we won the World Series.” He was crying tears of joy as I am now. —Kent Snyder
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, 1987
For a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan, the 1987 season was magical. At the last home game, on Sept. 27, my wife and I sat about 10 rows up in the left field bleachers of the Metrodome. A win against the Kansas City Royals would secure at least a tie for the American League West title, so rookie manager Tom Kelly decided to send the great curveballer Bert Blyleven to the mound on only three days’ rest.
Just before the team took the field, a spontaneous ovation arose from the sellout crowd of 52,924 fans. I had never heard such a thunderous sound. Things didn’t go so well for Blyleven in the top half of the first, as he gave up a leadoff walk to the speedy Willie Wilson, followed by a Kevin Seitzer single. This put runners at first and third with future Hall of Famer George Brett coming to bat. Brett scorched a grounder to third and Gary Gaetti promptly threw to second to start what we thought would be a 5-4-3 double play.
Some players have numerous career milestones, but utility infielder Al Newman, who was playing second base that day, made a decision on this pivotal occasion that stands out as his greatest achievement. Rather than flipping the ball to first and conceding the run, Newman saw Wilson had hesitated a bit before heading for home. He rifled a perfect strike into catcher Tim Laudner’s mitt at home plate. Wilson was out.
In the home half of the first inning, the weak-hitting Newman doubled to left and Kirby Puckett followed with a home run. Gaetti and Kent Hrbek also homered in the inning, giving the Twins a 5-0 lead. Blyleven pitched a complete game, and the Twins loped easily to an 8-1 triumph. Soon, the Twins would win the franchise’s first World Series in Minnesota, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. —Jon Pratt
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 1996
On May 17, the Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Hoiles hit a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off of the Seattle Mariners’ Norm Charlton to win the game. I have written on the back of the ticket stub that this had occurred 10 other times in baseball history.
Other details: Until then, Hoiles had been the only starter from both teams without a hit. There were six home runs and 26 men left on base, including 23 in the first six innings. (That has to be a record too, I’d think.) Baltimore’s Rafael Palmeiro and Seattle’s Alex Rodriguez each drove in six runs—Palmeiro with three two-run hits and Rodriguez with a grand slam and a two-run double.
The funniest part: I was there with my wife of 10 months, Tonia, and my childhood best friend, Trace Wood, along with his girlfriend, Lisa. My wife doesn’t like baseball and slept through much of the second half of the game. The big ending didn’t make up for it being what was then the second-longest nine-inning game in history. —Eric Schansberg