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Baseball '90 PREVIEW : Angels Turning 30 After Frustrations, Triumphs of Youth

MIKE PENNER

April 09, 1990|MIKE PENNER

1, as in No. 1, something they've never been.

2, pitches. One to Cecil Cooper, one to Dave Henderson.

3. Gene Mauch. The Little General managed three craggy, cranky Angel teams to 90-win seasons, won two division championships and wringed more out of the talent at hand than any of his predecessors. He deserves to be remembered for more than his Waterloos.

4 Nolan Ryan no-hitters. He pitched his fifth for the Houston Astros, although he'd have had it much sooner if Rudy Meoli or Sandy Alomar--or \o7 anybody\f7 --decided to catch Thurman Munson's pop fly behind second base.

5, as in Game 5. If Angel fans have forgiven, they will never forget.

6 games, the extent of John D'Acquisto's Angel career. For $1.3 million, D'Acquisto gave the Angels no wins, no losses and a 10.71 earned-run average in 1981. The same year, the Angels shelled out $1.5 million so Bill Travers could appear in four games and go 0-1 with a 8.38 ERA. It took them eight years to work up the courage to try it again with Mark Langston.

7. Rick Burleson. Not one but \o7 two \f7 torn rotator cuffs. Less fortunate than Jim Fregosi and Dick Schofield, he might have been the best Angel shortstop of all.

8. Bob Boone. He was purchased from Philadelphia for $300,000 and lost to Kansas City for $1. In between, he won four Gold Gloves and served as the Angels' finest catcher ever--before and after 40.

9. Rob Wilfong. Donnie Moore threw the home-run pitch and Doug DeCinces hit the first-pitch pop fly to right, but Wilfong was the hidden anti-hero of Game 5. After singling home the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, Wilfong froze at first base when the outfield relay went through to home plate. Had he taken second, Wilfong figured to score on Dick Schofield's ensuing single. Instead, both he and the Angels wound up stranded on third base.

10 pitchers have made their professional debuts in the major leagues since the inception of the amateur draft. No one did it nearly as well as Jim Abbott, who won 12 games with a 3.92 ERA as a rookie--and did it with one hand.

11. Jim Fregosi. A six-time All-Star, the first Angel manager to win a division championship and the trade bait that lured Ryan from the Mets. He served this franchise well.

12 consecutive losses to end the 1988 season, along with the managerial career of Cookie Rojas. Team September this has never been.

13 managers. The roll call: Bill Rigney, Lefty Phillips, Del Rice, Bobby Winkles, Dick Williams, Norm Sherry, Dave Garcia, Jim Fregosi, Gene Mauch, John McNamara, Mauch again, Cookie Rojas, Doug Rader. Average: one manager per 2.2 seasons.

14 home runs by Lee Stanton, which led the '75 Angels. They were known as Rabbits--all speed and no pop--and their team total of 55 home runs left them only six behind Roger Maris.

15. Ted Kluszewski. Big Klu, an original Angel, checked in at 6-feet-2 and 240 pounds. When Albie Pearson (5-5, 140) was assigned as his roommate, Kluszewski told him, "I get the bed and you get the dresser drawer."

16 million dollars, and nearly as many crossed fingers, for Langston to make his Mark.

17 Alex Johnson. The Angels' only batting champion, by the narrowest of margins--.3289 to Carl Yastrzemski's .3286. If pitchers couldn't figure him out in 1970, no one could in 1971, as Johnson brawled in the clubhouse, stalled on the basepaths and drew a suspension for "failure to hustle and improper mental attitude." By October of '71, he was gone, banished to Cleveland.

18 seasons as also-rans before the first American League West title in 1979. Until then, the Angels had bettered the .500 mark five times and finished better than third only once.

19 errors by Chili Davis in 1988, a club outfield record that should stand forever. Or so the Angels hope.

20 innings on the night of July 9, 1971--and the morning of July 10. Tony Conigliaro lasted only 19, going 0 for 8 with five strikeouts before umpire Merle Anthony's merciful ejection. The Angels lost to an Angel--Mangual, who singled home a run in the bottom of the 20th for a 1-0 Oakland victory--and four hours later, Conigliaro announced his retirement.

21. Wally Joyner. Some Angels live in their own little worlds. Wally had one named after him.

22 victories by Ryan in 1974 to go with a 2.89 ERA and 367 strikeouts on a team that finished 68-94. The Cy Young Award still went to Catfish Hunter.

23rd of September, 1978. Angel outfielder Lyman Bostock steps into the wrong car with the wrong woman and is killed by a shotgun blast from a jealous ex-husband. Bostock, twice a .300 hitter with the Minnesota Twins, was 27 years old.

24. Gary Pettis. If only baseball were a two-platoon sport.

25 Don Baylor. The Angels' only league MVP and Buzzie Bavasi's second greatest mistake. When Baylor left Anaheim three years after Ryan, he went on to play in three World Series with Boston, Minnesota and Oakland. That's three more than the Angels.

26. Gene Autry. That was the first uniform number retired by the Angels, who always considered Autry their "26th man." Autry appreciated the honor, but we can think of one thing he'd appreciate more.

27 up and 27 down. Mike Witt saves his best for the last day of the 1984 season, pitching a perfect game against a Texas Ranger team managed by Doug Rader.

28. Bert Blyleven. For once, the curse was reversed. Blyleven went from Minnesota has-been (10-17, 5.43) to California hero (17-5, 2.73) in the span of one season, leaving a trail of smoldering shoelaces and smirking teammates in his wake.

29. Rod Carew. If they retired his number out of guilt over the mishandling of his 1985 release, it was for the wrong reason. The right reasons: Four .300 seasons as an Angel, a .314 average as an Angel and his 3,000th hit, which he delivered in 1985, as an Angel.

30 years of Angel baseball. The franchise hits the three-decade mark in 1990. Here's hoping it hits fewer bumps over the next 30.

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