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Jackson's Grand Slam Keys Angel Comeback : Baseball: His homer in the eighth ties score. Eduardo Perez's two-run single beats Rockies, 7-6.

March 05, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — The murmur began the moment he left the on-deck circle Friday, building to a crescendo by the time he reached the plate.

It was the scenario that creates legends, sending fans home to embellish what they just witnessed.

Designated hitter Bo Jackson stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. The Angels were trailing by four runs in the eighth inning. The situation called for a grand slam. Little else would do.

Jackson watched rookie Marc Pisciotta throw three consecutive balls. There was no doubt in his mind what was coming next.

Pisciotta fired, and Jackson swung, sending the ball sailing over the right-field fence, and the Angels into a frenzy. The score was tied, and moments later, the Angels won on Eduardo Perez's two-run single for a 7-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Welcome to the Cactus League.

"Bo knows dramatics," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. "That's why you pay some guys $5 million and some guys $500. The minute I saw the ball, I just looked at the flagpole and waited for it to land.

"We don't know if we're seeing the tail end of his first career, or the beginning of his second one, but it's going to be fun to find out."

While the Angel coaching staff has three weeks to decide whether Jackson will make the team, its intentions became pretty obvious when Angel owner Gene Autry strolled into the clubhouse. He came only to meet Jackson.

"Who's this man that I tried to sign (in 1985)?" Autry said, extending his hand. "That was wonderful today. Hopefully, you'll be doing the same thing in six months."

Autry started to walk away, and Jackson grinned, turned around and said, "So, does this mean (I have) a job?"

If Jackson continues these theatrics, he may not only have a job, but force his way into the starting lineup.

Little wonder why DH Chili Davis walked into the clubhouse, looked at Jackson, and said: "So tell me, where am I going to be traded to, Cleveland?"

Said Jackson: "Hey, I'm not here to impress anyone. I'm just here to try to obtain a job and play ball."

It's too late. Jackson not only mesmerized the 4,952 fans who watched Jackson play in his first Cactus League game, but he already has a fan club in the Angel clubhouse.

"I'm in awe of the guy," Angel right fielder Tim Salmon said. "It's going to be something to have him around all year. Man, what a threat."

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