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more memories

On today’s Giants telecast, Mike Krukow was talking about his major-league debut, which came back in 1976. You could tell by the sound of Kruk’s voice that he remembered that game as if it were yesterday. That’s not hard to understand … it’s the goal of every ballplayer to make the big leagues, and someone like Krukow, who thanks to a long career as a broadcaster has now been in the game for many decades, is sure to recall that initial performance.

The subject came up when talk turned to another pitcher-turned-broadcaster, Steve Stone. Krukow noted that his first appearance in the big leagues came in relief of Stone. Krukow had just joined the Cubs from the minors, and Stone, the starting pitcher for the Cubs that day, had nothing. As Krukow told it, Stone warned the bullpen that he wasn’t likely to last long, so they should be ready to go. Four outs later, he said, Stone was gone and Kruk was in. He retired the first nine men he faced, but then gave up three runs.

All credit to Kruk’s memory … do you remember what you were doing on September 6, 1976? But this is the Internet era, and it’s easy to check and see how that game actually turned out. Baseball-reference.com gives the details.

Krukow was right, Stone only lasted 1 1/3 innings. But he was relieved by Buddy Schultz, who retired the side. In the bottom of the inning, manager Jim Marshall pinch-hit for Schultz, and then, in the top of the third, Krukow made his debut.

Coming into the game, Kruk was as good as he remembered. He got the Mets 1-2-3 in the third, and repeated the feat in the fourth, meaning he had retired the first six hitters he faced in the big leagues. But in the fifth, he gave up hits to four of five batters, allowing three runs, after which he was removed from the game.

Again, credit is due to Krukow for remembering that day so well, and you could end the story there and not be too far from the truth. But what actually happened differed from what Krukow remembered … not by much, only in a couple of details, but different nonetheless. And this happened 35 years ago, but it was also an event that Krukow likely counts among the biggest of his life. And his memory was less than flawless.

Does this matter? Probably not. But it’s worth a thought the next time you tell someone your memories about an important event in your life. You’ll remember that story as if it were yesterday. And you’ll get at least part of the story wrong.