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Billmeyer Catches a Golden Moment

August 06, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

It wasn't exactly the shot heard 'round the world, but it will be the shot heard 'round the Angel clubhouse for days, weeks, months--who knows how long?

Mick Billmeyer, the Angels' bullpen catcher and designated quipster, provided the crowning moment of Monday's Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown, N.Y., whacking a monster of a two-run home run off Montreal Expo pitcher Shayne Bennett in the eighth inning to help the Angels to a 6-6 tie.

Billmeyer had joked with Manager Marcel Lachemann on the team's charter from Toronto to Utica, N.Y., Sunday night about getting an at-bat in the exhibition game, and Lachemann called his bluff, sending him in with the Angels trailing, 5-4.

Billmeyer, 32, played nine minor league seasons before joining the Angels in 1994. He responded by blasting an 0-and-2 pitch into the trees well beyond the right-field fence at Doubleday Field.

Looking like a guy who wanted to milk this 15 minutes of fame, Billmeyer admired the shot and trotted slowly around the bases. Even though Montreal tied the score in the ninth, Billmeyer thoroughly enjoyed the post-game attention, which included a radio interview and several autograph signings.

Joe Maddon, Angel bench coach, surveyed the scene, smiled and shook his head. "We're never going to hear the end of this," he said.


Batting instructor Rod Carew had planned to check out his plaque in the Hall of Fame, "but I just couldn't. . . . I couldn't . . . get up," he said.

Carew, who was inducted in 1991, slept past his wake-up call Monday morning and missed the team's tour.

"It didn't bother me too much, though," said Carew, who caught a ride to the game on the equipment truck. "I hope to come back again and take part in the [induction] ceremonies. Who wouldn't want to come here? This is the American pastime. It's all here."

Plenty of players saw Carew's plaque, though, and were humored by the inscription, which says Carew was "a wizard with the bat who lined, chopped and bunted his way to 3,053 base hits."

Said shortstop Gary DiSarcina: "He bunted, sliced, diced, chopped, chinked and any other words you want to use to describe 3,000 hits."

Carew: "Yeah, I've been taking a lot of heat for that."

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