Nostalgia: Whatever Happened To … Brian Johnson?

September 14, 2007

It seems like yesterday, but Brian Johnson’s epic game-winning homerun took place nearly a decade ago, almost to the day. Has it really been ten years?

Johnson grew up in Oakland, attending Skyline High School. He lettered in the three major sports, and was even Gary Payton’s backup on the hoops team. Interestingly enough, his best sport was probably football, as he earned a full scholarship to Stanford, where he was the starting quarterback during his first three seasons. In the meantime, he led the Cardinal baseball team to a pair of College World Series championships. The fun part: he played seven positions–all but catcher and second base.

Johnson was drafted by the Yankees in the 1989 Draft. He soon returned to catching duties, despite not playing catcher since high school. He cracked the big leagues in 1994, with the San Diego Padres.

But his moment in the sun was September 18, 1997. We’ll let the Giants official site do the honors:

After more than four hours of baseball, the teams were still stuck at five runs each when Johnson came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th. Reliever Mark Guthrie threw one pitch, and Johnson clobbered it. It rode toward the wall in left, but having already seen an earlier Dodgers blow to nearly the same spot look like a sure home run, only to be knocked down by the Candlestick Park wind, the 52,140 in attendance held their breath.

When the ball cleared the fence and landed in the left-field bleachers, the ballpark erupted. It’s possible cars on nearby Highway 101 thought an earthquake was happening as the frenzied crowd celebrated wildly while Johnson circled the bases. The catcher later said he didn’t even feel his feet hitting the ground as he ran, and when he crossed the plate, his teammates mobbed him. The scoreboard itself almost seemed alive as it displayed the current NL West standings, with the Giants and Dodgers in a flat-footed tie.

That was the season of Dustiny. And no one epitomized that feeling more than Brian Johnson.


Nostalgia: Nancy Reagan Has A Cannon For An Arm

September 7, 2007

Yeah, we’re sticking with the 1988 World Series nostalgia clips. Here we have the First Lady delivering a very important message to the youth of America and then tossing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Seeing that “pitch” makes us realize that Nancy Reagan was almost a real-life, female version of Mr. Burns (albeit not evil … probably).

[Kidding aside, we think she did a very nice thing in bringing the whole “Say no to drugs” campaign to the country and we wouldn’t wish to imply otherwise.]

Nostalgia: The 1988 Oakland A’s World Series Lineup

September 5, 2007

There’s something about old baseball footage that just makes you tingle.

Other thoughts: Dave Stewart was a badass.

Glenn Hubbard!

Two Jose Canseco cameos today? Yeah, we’re scared too …

By the way, how did Game One of the ’88 series turn out?

Nostalgia: Whatever Happened To … Dave Henderson?

August 28, 2007

Ah, the other Henderson in the Oakland outfield.

In so many ways, “Hendu” was the exact opposite of Rickey: a workmanlike, unassuming and underrated outfielder. And like the earlier-discussed Mike Aldrete, Dave Henderson had stints with both the Giants and A’s.

Born just south of the Bay in Merced, Hendu came up with the Seattle Mariners in 1981. Baseball fans around the nation probably best remember him for his ALCS-clinching home run in the ninth inning as a member of the 1986 Boston Red Sox.

During the tail end of the 1987 season, he was traded to San Francisco but after a mere 15 games in orange and black, he signed with the A’s during the offseason. In Oakland, he resurrected his career, setting career highs in average (.304), doubles (38) and hits (154). He was an All-Star in 1991 (when he hit behind Rickey Henderson).

He finished his 14-year career in 1994 after a season with the Kansas City Royals, which is enough to make anyone want to retire.

Hendu is currently a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners. He also sponsors a host of “baseball adventures.” We will always remember Hendu for his slight resemblance to David Allen Grier.

Dave Henderson [Wikipedia]

Nostalgia: Whatever Happened To … Mike Aldrete?

August 24, 2007 who played youth baseball knows about the “Mike Aldrete” kid: the nice left-handed hitter who has a super sweet swing but no speed, power or defensive prowess.

Mike Aldrete was a Northern California kid. A Carmel native, he lettered in the three big sports at Monterey High, then went on to play ball at Stanford. He cracked into the bigs with the Giants in 1986 and had his best year in 1987, hitting an impressive .325 as the team went to the NLCS (stupid Jose Oquendo).

After his stint with the Giants, he did some traveling, making stops in Montreal, Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland, Anaheim (or, as it was known back then, California), New York and Syracuse. He filled in admirably for the injured Mark McGwire in 1993 with the A’s and later won a World Series ring with the 1996 Yankees.

In 2003, he scored the first base coach job with the Seattle Mariners, who were then managed by his good buddy and former Giant Bob Melvin. In 2005, when Melvin took over the Arizona Diamondbacks, he brought Aldrete along, and Aldrete is currently the DBacks’ hitting coach. He lives in Monterey with his family in the offseason.

Coming off the bench to pinch hit in those 1987 games, Mike was always a personal childhood favorite of ours.

Mike Aldrete [Baseball Reference]

A’s Roundup: Esteban, Cust Return

August 23, 2007
  • Esteban! Loaiza led the A’s to victory and .500. Fresh off the DL, the vet pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up a mere trio of hits to his Canadian feathered friends. Jack Cust homered, as he always does. [SFGate]
  • Like Jesus before him, Mr. Cust has been resurrected. [Rumors & Rants]
  • Just because the A’s are down and out, Billy Beane is not going to abandon Moneyball. Instead, he’s going to tweak it during the offseason. Look for a new and improved Moneyball 2.0 next year. [The FanHouse]
  • Maybe B-Beane should just schedule Wednesday games, because the A’s and Wednesday games? Well, they go together like peas and carrots. [Athletics Nation]
  • Frank Thomas lumbers around the bases, not unlike an apatosaurus, were it to get a single. [SFGate]
  • Rich Harden was transferred to the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.
  • Usually we don’t share non-A’s news in this little feature, but the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 last night. [ESPN]

Nostalgia: Whatever Happened To … Iheanyi Uwaezuoke?

August 19, 2007 the late 90s, behind the Rice-Owens-Stokes triumvirate lurked one Iheanyi Uwaezuoke.

Iheanyi Uwaezuoke, pronounced e-HaN-yee ooh-WAYZ-o-KAY (it was great when Sportscenter anchors had to try to pronounce it off the teleprompter), was the 49ers’ fifth round draft pick in 1996. In some ways, Uwauzuoke was a local boy, playing his college ball at Cal (and he had quite the stellar career at Berkeley), but in other ways–like being born in Nigeria–he really wasn’t that much of a local boy.

To this day, Uwaezuoke might hold rights to the worst debut in Niners history. In his first game, the rookie dropped the first pass that came his way, then dropped the first two punts that came his way, and to top it all off, he injured his shoulder and wound up on the injured list. Suffice to say, it was not a good first day in the office.

In two and a half seasons with the Niners, Uwaezuoke compiled 24 receptions for 323 yards. He was picked up by the Miami Dolphins during the 1998 season, and rounded out his career with Detroit and Carolina in the 1999 and 2000 seasons, respectively, though the majority of his playing time came on special teams. In 2000, he found his way back to the Bay and tried to land a spot on the Oakland Raiders’ roster, but that didn’t quite work out.

In retrospect, Uwaezuoke was a very speedy receiver/returner–probably the best deep threat on those teams–who really was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, considering he was behind a Hall-of-Famer (Jerry Rice), an up-and-coming superstar (Terrell Owens) and a big-name high draft pick (JJ Stokes).

We’re not sure of his post-retirement whereabouts, so if anyone has any info, feel free to share.