Great Tiger Moments 2: June 26, 1986

I’m reading a book right now called 巨人ー阪神論 (Kyojin-Hanshin Ron — Giants/Tigers Discourse). Basically it’s a guided conversation between 1980s Giants ace Suguru Egawa and 1980s Tigers cleanup hitter Masayuki Kakefu. They discuss everything from their playing days and beyond. Still halfway through but I came across a bit about this moment:

June 26, 1986. Tigers legend Randy Bass has hit home runs in six straight games. One more and he ties the record set by home run king Sadaharu Oh. Korakuen is full and the Giants have their best pitcher in the mound. On this day, he’s not exactly at his best, giving up 5 runs through 7 innings including a bomb to Kakefu. Enter the 8th, score tied up. Egawa looks at the on deck circle. Bass. He’s managed to focus all his energy on the Colonel so far, leaving him hitless in 4 at bats.

This time, Bass sits back in the batter’s box a little more than usual. Egawa sees this and, against his catcher’s call, delivers a heater high and inside. Check the result below:

Hit clear out of the park. Tigers lead 6-5 and hold on to win. Egawa was not told by his manager (guess who? Oh himself) to pitch around Bass, but he had heard whispers throughout the day from press and teammates that he should not let his manager’s record be tied. Still, Egawa says, he couldn’t resist trying to beat the man with his go-to pitch.

The Tigers would finish the year in third but on this night, it looked like 1985 all over again.

Great Tiger Moments 1: April 30, 2009

The 2009 season was not a good one for the Hanshin Tigers. They did not make the playoffs, finishing 4th in the Central League with a 67-73-4 record. For one magical night, though, fans rejoiced as though the team had won it all.

At Koshien Stadium on April 30, 2009, the team was facing the pathetic (last-place) Yokohama Baystars. This particular series was tied 1-1, and the third match looked to be wrapped up by the visiting team. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the score was 2-0. The Tigers brought in a pinch hitter (Imaoka) in place of the pitcher, though it seemed like it could easily end with his at bat. Instead, the unthinkable happened:

That’s right. Five straight hits (Imaoka single, Hirano triple, Sekimoto single, Toritani single, Kanemoto walk-off single) and the Tigers walked off the field winners and owners of a 11-11-1 record to end the opening month. Exciting baseball, is it not?