Results tagged ‘ Darin Erstad ’

Memories of Giants in the World Series

The last time the Giants were in the World Series was in 2002. I covered that Series as the national baseball writer for the Hartford Courant newspaper and suffered one of my biggest disappointments.

It had nothing to do with the Giants losing. Baseball writers learn early on in their careers that the only thing worth rooting for is your story. Because of deadlines, writers work on their copy throughout the game. At times a certain storyline appears that you pursue and hope doesn’t get ruined by a turn of events.

The Giants had a 3-2 lead in games over the Angels heading into Game 6 at Anaheim. In the fifth inning, Shawon Dunston hit a two-run home run that broke a scoreless game. Two innings later, the Giants’ lead was up to 5-0 as they were on the verge of winning their first World Series since 1954 when they still played in New York at the Polo Grounds.

I thought back to that Series and knew the hero was a part-time outfielder named Dusty Rhodes, who came off the bench to get some huge hits for the Giants in their sweep of the Indians. Rhodes was 4-for-6 in that Series with two home runs and seven RBI.

Dunston, who had been a regular shortstop during his prime, was a bench player on those 2002 Giants. He was the designated hitter batting ninth in Game 6. A thought came to me, and I quickly typed out this lede:

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Move over, Dusty Rhodes, and make room for Shawon Dunston.

Just then, my pal Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register came over to me to chat about something. He looked at the sentence on my laptop screen and said, “Hey, that’s pretty good. I hope it holds up.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when Scott Spiezio belted a three-run home run to get the Angels to 5-3. The lede is still good, I told myself. An inning later, Darin Erstad homered and Troy Glaus doubled in two runs. There went my lede, and there went the Giants. The Angels won that game and the next one, too.

My other two experiences with the Giants in the World Series were in 1989 and 1962. In ’89, while typing early notes prior to Game 3 at Candlestick Park, the building started shaking. I saw the guys in the front row, all Bay Area writers, bolt for the exits. “This might be the big one,” one of them said.

It was big all right, an earthquake that registered 6.9 and shut down the World Series for 10 days. The people in San Francisco and Oakland were remarkable in the aftermath over the next two weeks as the area recovered not only from the quake but also the fires it caused in both cities, including the Presidio district where Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio was among those whose home was severely damaged.

On a more light-hearted note, there was 1962, the only year I ever played hooky from school – and I did it twice. The first time was in February to see the ticker-tape parade for John Glenn, the astronaut who had orbited Earth three times. The second time was Oct. 8, a Monday for Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and the Giants, Whitey Ford versus Juan Marichal.

A friend of mine had gotten tickets from a business associate of his father. I had never been to a World Series game, but I knew my parents would not let me out of school for something like that. I was going to a Catholic high school in Nassau County, Long Island. We didn’t wear uniforms, but we had to wear jackets, ties and leather shoes. I left the house that way but instead of taking the bus to school I walked to the nearest LIRR station and took the train to Penn Station and the subway to the Bronx.

It was worth it. The Stadium was all dressed up with the red, white and blue bunting I had never before seen in color and on the field were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, the central figures although neither one had a big Series. Marichal had to leave the game early because of an injury. The score was 2-2 in the seventh when Giants second baseman Chuck Hiller homered with the bases loaded. I didn’t find out until reading the paper the next day that it was the first grand slam hit by a National League player in World Series history.

It felt neat to have witnessed some history, but for most of my life I had to keep that day a secret. In fact, it was only a year ago that I finally told my mother and father what I had done. My father, who had been a Giants fan before switching to the Mets in the 1960s, said, “I wish I could have gone with you.”