You never quite know what you’re in for when you visit the ol’ ballpark. So if you attend upwards of 1,000 games (and now I wish I had kept more exact track over the years), quite a few “humdingers” will present themselves.
You and I may have attended different games (if anyone attended exactly all the same games as I did, that would be quite the coincidence), so hopefully you will weigh in with humsdinger of your own. But here are three “well that was different!” memories from years gone by. Some of the facts may have been changed, not so much to protect the innocent but more because memory is an iffy thing.
A 15 Inning Blowout
Extra inning games are great, especially when they go on and on, because what could be more of a nail biter than a long extra inning affair? So as the A’s and Rangers battled on into the 15th inning, locked up at 4-4, the question wasn’t whether Larry Parrish would torment the A’s yet again, but how. I don’t have time to look it up, but I believe Parrish batted a career .978 against Oakland.
Well this fine day at the Coliseum, it wasn’t Parrish who owned the 15th inning, it was everyone donning a Rangers’ uniform. It was July 3rd, 1983 and the fireworks came a day early. I sat in stunned silence, followed by vague amusement, as Texas put 12 runs on the board to take a somewhat commanding 16-4 lead.
The victims of this assault were Dave Beard and Ben Callahan — ok now I’m not going on memory, I just looked it up — the former issuing 5 walks, only two of them intentional, and the latter being lambasted for 6 hits in 0.2 IP. 12 runs, 8 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB . The A’s did not rally in the bottom half.
A Day Of Not Scoring
What could be more fun than a twin bill against the Twins? Doubleheader action, 18 innings of excitement. Only on this otherwise beautiful day in Oakland, the A’s forgot to score. Ever. And according to my quickie interweb research, this took place in 1988 when the A’s sported a robust offense that would lead them into the World Series.
Fans like me watched the Twins round the bases 16 times on their way to 11-0 and 5-0 whitewashings of the A’s. Not even a grounder with the infield, an ill timed balk, or a meaningless 9th inning solo HR.
Oh, and Dan Gladden led off the 1st inning of game 1 with a HR off of Curt Young. So the A’s trailed after every batter, pulling even only for the national anthem of game 2.
It appears Charlie Lea got a win, Juan Berenger a save, and that Carney Lansford went 0-7 to put him in a 4 for 51 slump. I don’t remember any of that; I just remember sitting there for 6 hours waiting for my A’s to push across a single run. They didn’t.
The Last Train
I think my very most vivid memory of a bizarre game was back when Nick (known on AN as “Nick”) and I were teenagers. This is, remember, an era of no cell phones, no Uber or Lyft. So it was kind of important not to miss the last BART train.
Fortunately, the last train left at midnight. So Nick and I sat back and reveled in an extra inning game we hoped would end with the A’s within at least 11 runs this time. But as the 14th inning came and went, then the 15th, the 16th...neither the A’s nor the White Sox could break through.
And now it was the 11 o’clock hour, so NIck and I started making occasional glances at the clock as 11:15pm turned to 11:30pm and the 17th inning turned to the 18th. Then came the 19th inning and a reminder over the public address system that “the last BART train leaves the Coliseum station at midnight”.
You can’t leave a game in the 19th inning, you just can’t. It’s also a really long walk home from the Coliseum to the Berkeley hills.
So as the A’s came to bat in the bottom of the 19th, we had multiple reasons to pray for the A’s to push across a run. Oakland did get the winning run to 3B with 2 outs, which was good, and it was 11:55pm, which was not so good.
You are about to learn why I will always love Jerry Dybzinski. If you have never heard of him, perhaps it’s because in his 5 year career he sported a batting line of .234/.293/.290 (63 wRC+). If you have heard of him, likely it’s because he made a crucial base running blunder in a 1983 ALCS game.
Well, Jerry Dybzinski may not be a household name but he is one of my heroes. That’s because just a few minutes before midnight, in the 19th inning, with a runner at 3B and 2 outs, Dybzinski booted a routine ground ball to shortstop. I don’t think the ball had kicked away 5 feet before Nick and I were already to the top step of the bleachers, racing like a bat out of hell towards the BART overpass.
From the overpass we could see the train approaching and from the stairwell leading to the platform we could see the train with its doors open. Given the adrenaline pumping through our veins, I think we could have beaten Rickey Henderson in a race for those final 100 feet.
We made it on the train.
Thank you, Jerry.