One Giant Leap For Mankind [VIDEO]
I was 5 years old on July 20th, 1969.
It was right about this time on that date...
My parents and I were at Anaheim Stadium, watching the hapless Angels lose yet another ball game. But this game was different, not for the contest being played, but because right about this time, the pitcher stepped off the mound and the hitter backed out of the batter's box and both raised their hats to the heavens as the group roar became deafening, every one in attendance standing in unison.
Then I saw the scoreboard in centerfield. It advised everyone that an accomplishment once thought of as impossible had just become reality. The United States had just landed Apollo 11, with two Astronauts, Neil Alden Armstrong and Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., on the moon. Within seconds, the players removed their hats and looked towards the large American flag beyond the outfield fences and joined in the thundering ovation that was delaying the game. It would continue for over five minutes, until finally subsiding and allowing the game to continue.
In the end it was a meaningless game, the Angels downing their instate rival Oakland Athletics 7-3, climbing to within 21 games of the .500 mark. The team's ace Andy Messersmith got the win to climb to 8-7 on the season, while reliever Ken Tatum got his seventh save of the season. The Halo's got home runs from 3B Aurelio Rodriguez and 1B Jim Spencer. Future Oakland A's ace Vida Blue made his major league debut and took the loss. A fact I didn't know until many years later, the A's final pitcher of the day, Marcel Lachemann, would 10 years later be my high school baseball coach.
But none of that mattered, all I can truly remember about the day was that five minutes I spent with approximately 30,000 of my closest friends, all proud to be Americans, and proud of our country's accomplishment.
At the same time, up the California coast, another great story of that day was unfolding, this one involving two more California baseball teams, the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. As any baseball fan knows, the two teams hated (and still hate) each other with a passion, going back to their days in New York. On July 20th, 1969 the two aces of the squads, the Dodgers Claude Osteen and the Giants future hall of famer, Gaylord Perry met in what was going to be a historic pitching matchup. The story in this game though was not the pitching, nor was it the Giants eventual 7-3 win, but instead their pitcher, and how he handled the bat.
Perry, who would pitch in the major for 22 seasons, totalling 314 wins, had long before this day, developed a well deserved reputation for being a bad hitter. His reputation was not was he a bad hitter, Perry was far worse, a bad hitting pitcher. His own manager, Alvin Dark, once even commented "they'll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run". And he was right.
Perry was at the plate in the bottom of the third inning, when the announcement came across the Candlestick Park score board that Aldren and Armstrong had landed on the moon. After a similar eruption of the crowd died down, Perry stepped back into the batter's box and, you guessed it, hit the next pitch he saw for the first, and only, home run of his 22-year career.
Six hours later, Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon, uttering the historic phrase "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But few people realize that Armstrong went off-script, messing up his opening line somewhat. He was supposed to say “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” but he forgot the “a.” I guess this makes him the first man to misspeak on the moon.
Happy Moon Day everyone!
source: Time Magazine, CBS News