Game 8: July 15, 1996

Bonilla3

Bobby Bonilla along with Barry Bonds made up the so called “Killer Bees” that played for Pittsburgh in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He would usually hit for a pretty good average with some power. He generally played right field (adequately) or third base (not so much). I saw quite a bit of him in 1995 and 1996 when he was with the Orioles. He apparently did not get along too well with manager Davey Johnson for the Orioles made no attempt to resign him after his reasonably productive 1996 campaign.

On Monday night July 15, 1996 the Orioles were hosting the Toronto Blue Jays. The game was drawing some attention because for the first time since 1982, Cal Ripken was not at shortstop. He played the game at third base, supposedly to give backup infielder Manny Alexander a chance to play his “natural position”. Many people thought the real reason was to get Cal use to the idea that his days as a shortstop might be coming to an end. Cal did make a couple of good plays at third base. Within a few days however, he would be back at short. It was not until next spring, with the acquisition of Mike Bordick that Cal would move to third base for good.

Going into the bottom of the ninth, Toronto had a three run lead and their closer Mike Timlin was on the mound. The first two Orioles got on base, bringing Bobby Bonilla to the plate. As a switch hitter, he was batting left handed against the right hand pitching Timlin. Timlin delivered. Bonilla swung. He crushed it – a line shot. I cannot recall ever having seen a ball go from home plate to the right field stands so quickly. With one swing the Orioles had tied the game and would eventually go on to win.  I have never especially been a Bobby Bonilla fan but to this day whenever I hear his name mentioned it is that swing, the crack of bat meeting ball, and the sight of the ball heading to right field like it had been shot from a cannon that immediately comes to mind.

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