Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 45.
THE DATE: Aug. 21, 1990
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.
THE STAKES: A random game during a West Coast road trip in a bad season
THE GREAT: Back in the olden days, all the way back to 1990, if we wanted the Phillies score from a late-night game on the west coast, we had three choices. We could stay up late and watch the game, which wasn’t feasible for a 15-year-old in my household. We could watch or listen to the local news reports to get “scores on the 20s” or whatever promotion they were running that month. Or, we could watch the Bottom Line-less “SportsCenter,” where you have to wait most of the half-hour show until they made their way down to the Phillies score.
On Aug. 22, 1990, that’s where I was. I went to sleep early on in the Phillies-Dodgers game in Los Angeles the night before, with Harry and Whitey putting me to sleep through my boombox radio somewhere along the time the Phillies went down 11-1 in the fifth. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda felt confident enough to pull his team’s starters and give some playing time to his bench. Just in case, I turned on “SportsCenter” for my 5:25 a.m. wake-up call for my summer job, and prepared to eat breakfast while waiting for the Phillies score.
Wait, no Phillies score in the last five minutes of the show, the usual catch-up spot for the worst games and teams? What’s going on here?
But lo and behold, when the 5:30 a.m. “SportsCenter” replay came on, THE PHILLIES WERE THE TOP STORY!!! Did someone from the Dodgers hit for the cycle? Was there a bench-clearing brawl like there was the night before? Did Lasorda drop dead of a heart attack? For that matter, did John Kruk?
Kruk wasn’t even playing when I fell asleep, but hey, with Kruk, anything was possible. So I watched as ESPN threw Chris Berman squarely under the bus, playing the audio of him calling the game a laugher or something like that in the fifth. Then they showed the eighth – a two-run double by Von Hayes, which seemed innocent enough. Then came the ninth in the biggest one-inning comeback in Phillies history, and certainly one of the oddest you’ll see.
Top prospect Jose Offerman had barely been in the majors for a week with the Dodgers – and was 15 years away from his short, late-career stint with the Phils – but the ball found him twice on sure double-play balls. Both times, Offerman booted them. The extra outs allowed for the Phils to get a pinch-hit, three-run home run from Kruk to tie the game at 11 with one out.
A Carmelo Martinez RBI double gave the Phillies a 12-11 lead that they didn’t give up in the bottom of the ninth. The nine runs turned out to be the most the Phillies would score in a ninth inning since the teens, and cap off one of the biggest comebacks in the franchise’s history.
And for once, the Phillies were the top story on “SportsCenter.”