today is the 18th anniversary of a game that i watched on tv from my home in orange county. it wasn't a dodger game - it was a game featuring the california angels. living in the oc, i used to watch a fair amount of angels baseball, and most years even made it to the big a more often than i trekked up to chavez ravine thanks to the fact that interleague play was my friend, meaning the dodgers came to me for a few games each season. besides, the company i worked for had season tickets that i got to use a few times each season. back to the anniversary i mentioned at the start. the game that occurred on june 9, 1996 between the angels and indians has stuck with me (even if i need baseball reference to fill in some of the details), because of ryan hancock.
hancock was a former quarterback for byu, but was also a collegiate pitcher, and was taken in the second round of the 1993 draft by the angels. three years later, he was in the big leagues. he had made his major league debut on june 8, 1996, striking out the only batter he faced (carlos baerga) in a loss to the indians, but was again called on in relief during the game the next day. troy percival had blown the save in the 9th sending the game into extra innings, and with one out in the 11th, in came hancock.
he got omar vizquel out and then struck out kenny lofton to end the inning. hancock came out for the 12th inning as well with the score still tied. this time, he struck out julio franco and albert belle (sandwiched around a baerga single), and then worked out of a bases loaded jam to retire the tribe without allowing a run. that was all well and good, but to be honest, i really only remember the 13th inning.
when the angels brought percival in to pitch the 9th, they did some defensive rearranging. jack howell, the third baseman, was taken out of the game and replaced by percival. randy velarde moved from second base to third, and rex hudler, who had been the dh, was put at second. this meant that the angels no longer had a designated hitter. percival was forced to bat in the 10th (he struck out), and in the top of the 13th, the pitcher's spot came around again. with one out and no one on base, hancock was allowed to hit, and in his first (and what turned out to be his only) big league at bat, he singled off of julian tavarez. that was pretty cool to see, especially after the announcers had fretted over the fact that the pitcher had to hit. after a garret anderson strikeout, hancock came around to score the go ahead run on a jt snow homer.
the game wasn't over, however, as hancock came out to pitch the bottom of the 13th. the first two guys got on base on a hit and a walk, and then lofton attempted a bunt. hancock made a diving play to catch the bunt attempt in the air and then threw to second to double up the lead runner. although he gave up another walk, he got baerga to ground out to end the game, and hancock had his first big league game.
i remember thinking about how this guy (who was about my age) was living the dream - a big hit and a big defensive play to help his team win in only his second game as a major leaguer. what would he do for an encore? actually, he did pretty well, for a few weeks anyway. by the end of june, hancock had pitched in 8 games and was 4-0 with a 1.25 era. he had been moved to the starting rotation, and won each of his first two starts heading into july. he made two more starts that month with disastrous results (15 earned runs in 1.2 innings of work combined between the two appearances) and then made a relief appearance on july 18. he never appeared in another big league game after that.
even though hancock's major league career was over, we didn't know that at the time, and he was included in pinnacle's 1997 set