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Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Voice of '86: Angels catcher Bob Boone


Page 2 staff

Catcher Bob Boone hit .455 against the Red Sox in the 1986 ALCS. He was behind the plate when manager Gene Mauch brought in Donnie Moore to face Dave Henderson in the ninth inning of the dramatic fifth game of the series. Fifteen years later, he remembers the crucial pitch, and he remembers the pitcher.

Bob Boone
Bob Boone had one of his best series against Boston in the '86 ALCS.
"We had a great ballclub, but of course, Dave Henderson hit that home run. It was a really weird day; atmospheric conditions were such that balls were going out in that area. Dave hit his good -- it was a legitimate home run -- but if you hit it up in the air that way, it was going out.

"Before that, though, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5, Mauch took out pitcher Mike Witt and brought in reliever Gary Lucas.

"Witt was tremendous. But Rich Gedman was coming up, and he was the only guy that hit Witt. So Mauch brought in Gary Lucas, who hadn't hit a guy with a pitch in 100 years, and he hit Gedman. It was unbelievable.

"Then the dam broke.

"After Lucas hit Gedman, Mauch called on Donnie Moore, who was our closer.

"Donnie threw a forkball or a split-finger. He had really had a lot of problems with pain in his back that year. The split-finger was his bread and butter, though, so we went to it. He just . . . he just didn't throw it. It was in a good spot, it was down, but it just kind of tumbled and it was more of an off-speed pitch, and Henderson hit it out.

"That pitch, he just didn't have the arm speed to trick the hitter, and it didn't dive down like it was supposed to. It just kind of rolled up there and yelled, 'Hit me.' It was a hanger at the knees, if there is such a thing.

"So much has been written about Donnie Moore, who ultimately killed himself, saying that game had something to do with that. In my mind, my opinion, my heart, it had nothing to do with it.

"As I said, Donnie pitched with a lot of pain in his back, but he always took the ball. He was a pro about it. That had nothing to do with him ending his life. It always upsets me when people say that was a big factor -- it was not a big factor, as far as I'm concerned.

"We were all pretty crushed by losing the game, but we got over it. It's just that Boston was playing awfully well, and we didn't really do much when we went back to Boston.

"I had one of my best series. I hit the ball well. But there were no highlights. The whole thing was a lowlight -- if you don't win, it all feels low. When that ball rolled through Bill Buckner's legs against the Mets -- and Buckner is a good friend of mine -- it was like, 'There, serves you right, now you know how we feel.' "

Bob Boone caught 2,225 games in the Major Leagues. He is now the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.