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World Series | SPOTLIGHT

Abbott Will Return for One More Pitch

October 27, 2002|Bill Shaikin, Bill Plaschke, Jason Reid, Mike DiGiovanna, Diane Pucin | From Staff Reports

Jim Abbott, one of the most popular players in Angel history, is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 7 tonight.

Abbott, who inspired youngsters by achieving his dream of pitching in the major leagues despite being born without a right hand, jumped directly from the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 to the major leagues with the Angels in 1989. He pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees in 1993.

CATCH OF THE DAY: Rod Carew threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 6 Saturday. Every Angel fan knows Carew, the Hall of Fame infielder who played in Anaheim from 1979-85 and later served as the Angels' batting instructor.

Kevin Uhlich caught the ceremonial first pitch. Not every Angel fan knows Uhlich, who began his Angel career as a batboy in 1976 and rose through the organization to become the team's senior vice president of business operations.

"Tim Mead wanted me to catch the first pitch, and I told him I don't deserve to," Uhlich said, referring to the team's vice president of communications. "He said, 'Yes you do. You started as a batboy. This is for all the guys who have come and gone in the front office.' I said, 'Twist my arm.' That was fun."

LOW NOTE: After arriving late for Game 5, the fighter pilots apparently decided to take no chances Saturday, arriving early.

During the middle of singer Brian McKnight's rendition of the national anthem, the four jets roared overhead, drowning him out.

Last week at Pacific Bell Park, the jets arrived several minutes after the anthem, stunning a crowd that had returned to its seats.

JUICED UP: Actor Robin Williams apparently isn't impressed with the fake rock formation in center at Edison Field.

"It looks like a miniature-golf course on steroids," he said.

HOME SECURITY: There weren't many who blocked the plate as fearlessly and effectively as Mike Scioscia, the former Dodger catcher and current Angel manager, but that feistiness sometimes came at a price.

Asked before Game 6 to recall his most memorable collision, Scioscia said it was when Chili Davis, then with the Giants, barreled into him in 1986 and knocked him unconscious.

"I got hit harder by him than anyone else," Scioscia said. "Chili plays hard. He's 6 feet 3, looks like Apollo Creed. I saw stars. That was the hardest I've been hit, including all my years of playing football. It was a heck of a collision."

Did Davis score?

"No, he was out that time," Scioscia said. "We were both out."

SATISFACTION: Scioscia and Dusty Baker have both been players on World Series-winning teams and now both are trying to manage teams to a World Series championship.

Earlier in the playoffs, Scioscia said he felt much more emotional as a Dodger player than he does as an Angel manager.

Before Game 6 Saturday, Baker said he had the opposite feeling.

"I probably get more satisfaction as a manager," Baker said, "because you're in charge, you're responsible for everything even if you have nothing to do with some of it.

"It was different as a player. It was more fun as a player because you get to play and you get to have a direct effect on the outcome of the game. Whereas, the manager, you still are at the mercy of how the players perform."

Just goes to show that it takes all kinds. Scioscia has tried to stay as far in the background as possible. He even sighed a little Saturday when asked to describe himself as a player, saying "I hope this is the last time I ever have to talk about this."

Baker is happy to talk about himself as a player, happy to share remembrances. Each approach has earned each man respect and admiration in their respective clubhouses, though.

TEAM OF THE FUTURE: That's what Giant Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda thinks of the Angels, who play baseball his way.

"That's a great team that they have there," said Cepeda, the 1958 National League rookie of the year with the Giants. "You have kids that are putting it together. They're sort of unknown ballplayers and hungry, but I think people will get to know them now. I like that ballclub."

NO CONFIDENCE: Channel 11 didn't think much of the Angels' chances in Game 6.

Saturday afternoon, the Web site for the local Fox affiliate didn't have Game 7 on its schedule for today.

However, its prime-time schedule did have the Bruce Willis movie "Die Hard," which could be the title of the Angels' highlight video.

-- Bill Shaikin, Bill Plaschke, Jason Reid, Mike DiGiovanna, Diane Pucin

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