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Outa There
[ Non-fiction : Sports/ ]

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It was1977 or 1978. The Phillies had been in the pennant race all year. In fact, they had been so close for a couple years but had never made it over the hump to the World Series. This was going to be their year. I knew it, everyone knew it. Things though, didnít turn out that way. But it didnít matter. Because for one night, there was magic.

It was late September and I was in bed early (as usual) because I had to get up for school the next day. As was my habit, I got under the covers, took out my Popeye radio and hid it under my pillow, turning the volume up just enough so that I could hear the game. It had been a special week. Twice, Del Unser had come up in pressure situations as a pinch hitter and twice he had hit a home run.

The Phillies were down this particular night. I donít recall the specifics. It might have been the bottom of the eighth or the bottom of the ninth. Doesnít really matter though. What matters is that Del Unser came up to pinch hit. I remember hearing the crowd in the background. Chanting, yelling, screaming, hoping, praying that he would deliver yet again. But how could he? Two straight pinch hit home runs was hard enough but three? Unheard of!

Nevertheless, there I was in bed, unable to sleep because I KNEW what was about to happen. I got out from under the covers and turned up the volume just a bit more. The crowd roared in the background as Harry Kalas, in that distinctive voice, called out the pitches. One, two, three, I donít recall the specifics. What I do recall was the last pitch.

ďHere comes the 0-2 pitch,Ē called Kalas. Somehow, when that pitch left the pitcherís hand and I heard the crowd rise to their feet, I knew what was going to happen next: a miracle. I heard the bat as it cracked against the ball. I could see the crowd rise to their feet but most of all I remember the call. ďItís a long drive to deep right field. I donít believe it! I donít believe it! That ball is outa here! He did it again! He did it again! Folks, I canít believe what I have just seen. Three straight pinch hit home runs! In the background, the crowd roared and stomped their feet as I could picture Del rounding the bases being jumped on by his teammates.

And I let out a yelp. A yelp so loud that my father came running. ďWhatís going on?Ē he asked. I thought I was going to be in trouble. After all, I was only seven or eight and I had school tomorrow. But I was so excited, I didnít care. ďDel Unser hit his third straight pinch hit home run,Ē I yelped as I jumped up and down unable myself to believe what had just happened. And my father, who wasnít much of a baseball fan, took it all in stride. ďOkay, youíve had your fun, now itís time to get back in bed,Ē he told me after we celebrated for a few seconds.

And I did. But I couldnít sleep. Not after that. Not for a good hour or two until the battery on my Popeye radio ran low. It was one of the few times my father and I got along and one of the best memories I have from my childhood. That ball was outa there!




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Comments from Our Readers

  "That's my favorite call by Harry Kalas too, but the game was in 1979 on July 10th, bottom of the 9th, 2 out, 2 on against San Diego to win the game" - DRR, April 14 2009 - reply

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