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Fashionably Late, White Makes Up for Lost Time

June 26, 1988|ANN KILLION | Times Staff Writer

Angel center fielder Devon White hopes he doesn't make "This Week in Baseball."

If he does, it won't be for what he did on the field Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. It will be for what he didn't do.

Show up for work on time.

Promptly at 7:05 p.m., just as scheduled, the Angel game against Milwaukee got under way. Starting pitcher Mike Witt threw a strike at Milwaukee's Jim Gantner.

Lucky it was a strike. Lucky it didn't go into center field.

No one was there.

Suddenly, White came sprinting out of the dugout, to take his place in the vast, empty expanse of center field.

"I was listening on the radio in the clubhouse and I heard the first pitch," said White, who declined to specify what caused his tardiness.

Fellow outfielders Chili Davis and Jim Eppard said they yelled at the umpires to hold up the game.

"They're not only blind but they're deaf," Davis said.

But with White finally in place, the game officially restarted at 7:06 p.m. And the strike came off the scoreboard. "Mike Witt said it was his best pitch of the game," White said.

Gantner got a clean count. And one pitch later, naturally, he lined a ball to center field. The base hit started a two-run inning.

"It's funny now, but not then," Witt said, of White's unfashionably late appearance. "It was just that one inning that I was kinda (angry)."

But after the Angels' come-from-behind 7-3 victory, everyone was in much better humor, including White, who initially didn't want to talk about the late start.

"That's not the question of the game," White said.

But he, too, had to laugh at the bizarre event.

"I asked the third base umpire (Drew Coble) if he'd ever seen anything like that," White said. "He said he's been here eight years, and this takes the cake."

Everyone could laugh because of what White did later.

"He made a hell of a lot of difference when he came back out," Manager Cookie Rojas said.

White went 2 for 2 with a walk and scored two runs, including the Angels' first of the game, in the second inning on a self-made play.

"He should have stayed away," Brewer Manager Tom Trebelhorn said. "He did some damage to us tonight. He was very instrumental in their win."

The one-minute absence wasn't the first time White has disappeared this season. From May 7 to June 10, he was on the disabled list, after surgery on his right knee.

But, though he said his knee still bothers him from time to time, White didn't look as if he'd lost any speed.

In the second inning, White singled. Jack Howell followed with a single to left field that sent White to third, but he didn't stop there.

"I knew (Jeffrey) Leonard was going to lob the ball in, so I just took off," he said.

Leonard did lob the ball, and shortstop Dale Sveum held on to it and looked up to see White crossing the plate.

"I haven't seen a man run like that with those kind of instincts since Willie Mays in his youth," Rojas said. "That was just awesome. It shows what he can do if he gets on base."

White got on base every time he was up. He singled again in the fourth inning but was caught trying to steal second. And in his final at-bat he walked and scored on Dick Schofield's two-run single.

After the first home game since May 8 in which they scored five or more runs, the Angels were looking forward to today's matchup.

"Game time is at 2:05," Wally Joyner said. "Everyone be on the field at 2:07."

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