ta luego a ronda
the first time i saw pink

35 years ago today

Another quick one while I'm away.

I spent most of the 1970s getting better acquainted with my wife and kids, which among other things meant I didn’t pay much attention to baseball for much of that decade. On June 25, 1978, my brother and his wife took me to a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.

At the start of the day, the Giants were in first place by three games. Manager Joe Altobelli, who five years later would lead the Baltimore Orioles to a World Series championship, sent John “The Count” Montefusco to the mound in the first game. Montefusco was a former Rookie of the Year and All-Star who had thrown a no-hitter two seasons earlier, and who (for Giants fans) was famous for guaranteeing he’d win an upcoming game with the Dodgers. (He pitched a shutout.) He came in with a 6-2 record and an ERA of 3.41. The Giants’ best hitter that year was RF Jack Clark, while the rotation was anchored by lefties Bob Knepper and Vida Blue, who combined for 35 wins.

My first game in many years didn’t hold much suspense. In the bottom of the first inning, the Giants scored three runs off Atlanta pitcher Preston Hanna, the RBI coming from future Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey (who I remembered from my youth, of course) and Jim Dwyer. The Giants chased Hanna in the second inning, and coasted to a 9-3 win, with The Count going the distance and striking out eleven, while Mike Sadek hit his first HR of the season (only the second of his career). Bill Madlock also homered for the Giants.

The starter for the nightcap was Big Ed Halicki, who had thrown a one-hitter just two weeks earlier. The game went back-and-forth, and after nine innings the teams were tied, 3-3. In the top of the eleventh, with reliever Randy Moffitt (Billie Jean King’s brother) on the mound for San Francisco, things fell apart. Single, sacrifice, intentional walk, single, single, single, double, 8-3 Atlanta. The home team managed to get one back in the bottom of the inning, but they lost, 8-4.

Thus ended my afternoon of baseball. I saw Willie McCovey, who would end up in the Hall of Fame. I saw Dale Murphy. Heck, I saw Cito Gaston as a player. I’ve been going to games ever since.