Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Dave Van Gorder, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #467
1. Check Baseball Reference for today's birthdays. See that Dave Van Gorder is turning 56.
2. Click on Van Gorder's B-R profile. I know that he was a catcher in the 1980s, but that's about it.
3. Okay, he was the Reds' second-round draft pick in 1978 out of USC. Didn't do a helluva lot in Cincy: 171 games, .538 OPS.
4. Finished his career in Baltimore in 1987. A dozen games, 24 plate appearances, 5-for-21 with a homer and three walks. I wonder what the story is with that home run...
5. Check Home Run Log. Look at that, he took Frank Viola deep in a tight game. I wonder if the O's came back to win?
6. Peruse box score for May 12, 1987 game vs. Twins. Holy crow. Mike Flanagan put the Orioles in a 4-0 hole in the third inning. Ray Knight's two-run shot an inning later cut the Minnesota lead in half, and Van Gorder's solo blast in the fifth made it a one-run game. Ken Dixon replaced Flanny in the sixth, and promptly set the pitchers' mound on fire and danced over the ashes. The Birds headed to the bottom of the eighth inning down 7-3. That's when it got really fun.
Van Gorder led off with a walk to chase Viola. Keith Atherton came out of the Twins bullpen and got two quick outs, but couldn't finish the job. Cal Ripken singled and Eddie Murray walked, causing manager Tom Kelly to pull Atherton in favor of closer Jeff Reardon. Fred Lynn welcomed Reardon to the game with a grand slam, finally allowing the O's to pull even at 7-7. Dixon set down the heart of the Twins' order in a perfect ninth, giving Baltimore the chance for a walkoff win.
Cal Ripken Sr. sent Jim Dwyer up to pinch hit for rookie Ken Gerhart, and the veteran specialist delivered a single. Second baseman Rick Burleson also hit safely, moving the winning run to scoring position for...Dave Van Gorder. Not so fast! Senior yanked the unlikely hero from the game, sending up regular starter Terry Kennedy. Kennedy flew out to center field, but Dwyer tagged and went to third. Another fly ball would end the game, so a third pinch hitter was summoned: Larry Sheets, batting for Alan Wiggins. Sheets promptly said "the hell with it" and crushed a three-run, walk-off home run off of Reardon. It was the third of Larry's career-high 31 bombs that year, and it gave the Orioles a wild 10-7 win.
To think that I discovered this buried gem of a game all on account of Dave Van Gorder's birthday.