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February 1, 2014 at 3:45 am ET
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One Game: Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia – June 9, 1989

On paper, this was not going to be a remarkable game. It was between two teams that were rebounding from the nadir after zeniths not ten years before. Two teams that were were already double digit games under .500 and it wasn’t even July.

Two teams, at least in 1989, going nowhere and fast.

But God blessed baseball, because even games between bad teams can be full of win. This was one of those games.

I can’t imagine what kind of degenerates were in the crowd of over 18,000 at this game, but they certainly got their moneys worth.

Larry McWilliams started for the Phils, and lets just say he had better days. Barry Bonds walked to start the game, and after a feeble ground out, singles by Van Slyke, Bonilla and Redus, an intentional walk to Jeff King (OK, Nick Leyva, you’re issuing an intentional walk in the FIRST INNING to JEFF KING? Oy…) and a double by Rey Quinones (yes THE Rey Quinones) made it 2-0 Pittsburgh before the first drunk was beaten up by security.

In comes Steve Ontiveros (his first appearance after a two month DL stint, only 219 more surgeries to go, Steve!) and it didn’t get better, kids. Walk, a single by Bob Walk, a Bonds homer, another out by Jose Lind, single, walk, single and it was 10-0.

A ten spot.

Walk was the hurler for the Pirates, and yeah he pitched to the score Jack Morris fans and grooved one so Von Hayes hit it out with a man on. It was 10-2 now. Walk was gonna get that win, right?

Tommy Herr came out of the game after the first because of boredom or embarrassment (or injury, probably), so Steve Jeltz came in to play second. Yes, that Steve Jeltz. He of a career OPS+ of 57 before the 1989 season in 537 games. Just you wait.

Things were calm (as in, only a few more drunks were tossed but no on field action of note) until the bottom of the third, when Jeltz walked and Von Hayes hit another home run. 10-4 Pirates. Walk was gonna get that win, right?

Bottom of the fourth, two out. Only four more outs and Walk will get that win. But Randy Ready Walks and Steve Jeltz is next up.

Jeltz hit his first career home run in 1984. He hit his second career home run on May 21, 1989.  He hit his third off of Bob Walk, denying him the win. Jim Leyland slammed his heater on the ground, cursed, and got Walk. It was 10-6 Pittsburgh, but it was Bob Kipper’s game.

Pittsburgh got a run in the 5th to make it 11-6. It’s still that score in the bottom of the sixth when Kipper starts shakily, walking Darren Daulton. Pitcher Greg (the ambidextrous weirdo, not the one who pitched for Colorado) Harris sacrificed him to second (which I guess makes sense since Harris was an innings eater and the bullpen needed some help), and Ready walked.

Two on, one out for Jeltz.

KABLAMMMO!

Entering this game, Steve Jeltz had been a regular major league player for four seasons, and had played in two others. He had hit TWO home runs. He hit TWO in consecutive at bats. What’s more amazing, they came from the opposite sides of the plate. You see, Jeltz was a switch hitter – he flailed against pitchers from both the left and right side.  So batting lefty he blasted one against Walk and swinging righty he pounded one against Kipper.

It was 11-9. Leyland was deep into his second pack. Remember, they scored 10 freaking runs in the first.

The Phils weren’t done. John Kruk doubled, Bill Landrum, the ace of the Pirates bullpen, replaced Kipper and Ricky Jordan singled Kruk in to make it 11-10.

Jeff (not Don, and not the flash in the pan Giants pitcher) Robinson was called in the 8th to finish out the game. Robinson had a wide variety of experience in all roles. The one he had today was arsonist.

After an out, Kruk singles. Robinson walks two in a row, then uncorks a wild pitch to tie the game. Leyland then decides to walk Dickie Thon to load the bases and then brings in Roger Samuels.

Um…I forgot he existed. I mean, I remember him now since I was in about five rotisserie leagues and we always went deep on rosters and in the minors, but, yeah, Roger Samuels.

Daulton singles to score two and Curt Ford screams one to left. One run will score. Two runs will score. Here comes Ford to third, and FORD IS GOING TO GO FOR THE INSIDE THE PARKER!

(Picture Harry Kalas describing that play).

Ford was thrown out, but it was 15-11. Remember, it was 10-0, PITTSBURGH!

The Pirates went out meekly in the ninth, and the drunks, bums and unwashed of Philly who were at that game on a Thursday night in June celebrated Steve Jeltz on that day.

Steve Jeltz was not a good major league baseball player. He could not hit for average. He could not hit for power. He was an average fielder at best. He didn’t have speed.

But by God he hit two freakin’ home runs in one game, one from each side of the plate. Two of his five lifetime home runss in one game.

Ain’t no one ever gonna take that away from him.

 

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