Boston Red Sox History: Dave Henderson Sinks Angels Hopes
It was supposed to be time for the California Angels to take that next step. After decades of struggling, and two near misses in the postseason, the Angels were poised to make their first World Series appearance. All they needed were three more outs, and with Mike Witt holding a 5-2 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning, Angels fans were ready to celebrate.
Witt began to tire during the inning. Bill Buckner led off the inning with a single, and was replaced by Dave Stapleton on the bases. After a strikeout, Don Baylor homered, giving the Boston Red Sox life and cutting the lead to one. Witt managed to get one more out, and was then taken out of the game for Gary Lucas.
That was when everything fell apart for the Angels. Lucas, throwing one pitch, hit Rich Gedman to put the tying run on base. At that point, Gene Mauch decided to put in the Angels closer, Donnie Moore, to get that final out. Instead, on a 2-2 pitch to Dave Henderson, Moore served up a go ahead home run, as the Red Sox stunned the Angels by taking the lead.
California did come back and tie the game in the bottom of the inning, but the damage had been done. Moore remained in the game, and after pitching a scoreless tenth inning, loaded the bases to begin the eleventh. A sacrifice fly pushed the eventual winning run across, and Moore’s inability to preserve the lead for the Angels would become a part of baseball lore.
It did not get any easier as that game provided all the momentum that the Red Sox needed. They won the next two games, making the World Series, and leaving the Angels to wonder what would have been. That game would haunt Moore for the rest of his life, leading to his depression and eventual suicide at 35 years old.
We all know how that postseason ended for the Red Sox. They were also one inning away from breaking their own curse, poised to win their first World Series since 1918, when the wheels came off. Buckner would, much like Moore, become the scapegoat for a number of questionable moves and players imploding, even though both made gaffes that would cost their teams the game.
The California Angels appeared ready to change their perception as a star crossed franchise on this day in 1986 , but the Boston Red Sox had other plans. Dave Henderson hit what would be one of the more famous home runs in Red Sox history, helping to send Boston to the World Series.