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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Hudler Told He's in League of His Own--by Ripken

June 12, 1995|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Rex Hudler, a 6-foot, 195-pound utility infielder with 30 lifetime home runs, did Sunday what Oakland's Mark McGwire, Detroit's Cecil Fielder and Boston's Jose Canseco have never done--hit a home run into the second deck of Baltimore's Camden Yards.

Hudler turned on Jamie Moyer's inside fastball in the first inning, sending it an estimated 450 feet into the stands, but the significance of the moment didn't sink in until the sixth inning, when the Orioles' Cal Ripken doubled and had a quick conversation with Hudler at second base.

"He said I was in a league by myself, and coming from him, that really hit home," said Hudler, a first-round pick of the Yankees who was drafted 30 spots ahead of Ripken in 1978.

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The move didn't seem to make sense: Walk Rafael Palmeiro and put the winning run on base to pitch to Ripken in the bottom of the ninth inning?

Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann said it wasn't as difficult a decision as one might think. Not when you have Lee Smith, the all-time saves leader, pitching.

"Palmeiro has been so tough on us and against right-handed pitching, and he's really tough in this ballpark," Lachemann said. "You had a Hall of Famer on deck, but we had one on the mound too."

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