Greatest memories of Washington baseball 1960 to present

After the exciting Nationals baseball the week of June 17-24, 2011 it got me thinking about the most memorable Washington baseball events in my era (roughly mid-1950s to the present) The more recent ones will be very familiar to the readership here, but many of the older ones not so much. You might be surprised at some of these listed. Please feel free in comments to add your recollections of these events (or correct factual errors) and to add some of your own. I list only my ‘good' memories, where the Senators or Nationals won the game or a player had a good performance. I did not spend a lot of time ordering them, but I just let my mind recall them in the order shown from 1 to 11.

     1.  The 5-run 9th inning comeback capped by Wilson Ramos walk-off 3-run HR against Seattle in June, 2011

It doesn't get much better than this: stealing victory from the jaws of defeat, down big-time going into the last AB, and ending with a walk-off jack before the home fans.

     2.  Ryan Zimmerman walk-off 3-run HR off Yankee pitcher Wong to reverse a 0-2 loss to a 3-2 win in 2006. 

It wasn't a huge deficit, but the opposition was the Yankees, so this is a close number 2 for me. Like number 1 when it happened, I disturbed the wife with my screaming. A good way to gauge a memorable moment is the scream level when it occurred.

     3. Senators' 7-run comeback in the 9th inning to go from 0-7 to 7-7 against the hated Twins (who had left us original Senator fans in tears by leaving for Minnesota in 1962) in a 1967 game played in Minnesota.

The cap to the rally was a long HR by Frank Howard off the Twins closer Al Worthington. The game stayed 7-7 to 20 innings, as I recall, with the Senators winning 9-7. I barely stayed awake long enough to hear the end on radio, but I went to sleep happy.

     4. Frank Howard farewell HR in the last game played by the Senators in 1971.

From my observation at the game, I believe the Yankee pitcher grooved the pitch so Frank could hit it out before the home fans. If true this was a class act if there ever was one. It brought tears to my eyes as the realization hit me that it was the last I would see Frank crush one. On the subject of Frank Howard I should point out that he absolutely owned three of the best left handed pitchers of the 1967-1971 period: Sam McDowell (Cleveland), Dave McNally (Baltimore), and Mickey Lolich (Detroit).

     5. Two-run home run by Don Lock in the bottom of the 8th inning in a home game against the White Sox, that took a 0-1 deficit to an ultimate 2-1 win.

Why was this so memorable? The Chisox pitcher, Joel Horlen, had a no-hitter at the time, so he lost the no-hitter and the game after this one swing by Lock. And the HR was upper-deck at RFK.

    6. Frank Howard's streak of HRs in May 1968, when he hit HRs in 6 consecutive games and had 10 HRs in the 6 games (10 in just 20 ABs---are you kidding me!!)

The consecutive streak ended in Detroit though Howard hit a rope to the top of the fence for a double in a strong bid to continue the streak. So the ‘memorable moment' is the whole streak. 

    7. Debut of Stephen Strasburg in June 2010.

Who can forget that magical night, especially his last three innings when it was one K after another in front of a sell out home crowd screaming after each strike? 

    8. Frank Howard hitting a very rare opposite field triple to clear the bases in the second game of a doubleheader against the NY Yankees at home sometime in the late 60s.

The Senators swept the home twilight doubleheader as Howard came off the bench to pinch hit against Steve Hamilton. Howard rarely hit to the opposite field, but with the bases loaded (or might have been two on) he flicked an outside pitch down the right field line and the right fielder had a lot of distance to reach the ball in the right field corner. Howard huffed his way all the way around to 3B with a triple as the home crowd roared.

    9. Starting pitcher Camilo Pascual hitting a grand slam home run in Yankee Stadium to lead the original Senators to a 9-8 victory on the front end of a double header.

Pascual, a decent but not great hitting pitcher, batted right handed and hit the home run off the foul pole in right field, only about 290 feet away. The Senators went on to beat the Yankees, who were in their hay day (1960) in the second game also. The second game did not end until close to 11 PM, about 9 hours after the doubleheader started. Imagine the last place Senators beating the mighty Yankees on both ends in Yankee Stadium. That's baseball for you-on any given day.....

   10. Livo beating Arizona in the first National's home game in April 2005. Baseball was back and we won.

Though I have not lived in the DC area since 1975 my sports heart, especially my baseball heart, is still Washington. Having a baseball team again after 2005 to live and die with revitalized me in ways I did not realize was needed until the return of baseball. I just could not develop a bond with any other team after baseball left Washington, until baseball returned again to DC. 

   11. I was going to stop at ten, but the 14-inning game won 9-5 against the White Sox on June 25, 2011 has to be on the list. Three blown saves and the Nationals still win-you can't make this stuff up!

      Back to future memory: Nats win World Series in November, 2013



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