On June 17, 1997, interleague play began with a game between longtime local rivals separated by some 30 miles of Interstate 5. The Angels and Dodgers, who had long since played exhibition games against one another during the final weekend of spring training every year, finally played a game that counted on a Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium twelve years ago.
The Dodgers were trailing 3-1 entering the eighth inning, when third baseman Todd Zeile homered to left off Angel reliever Mike James to cut the lead in half. In the ninth inning, Angel closer Troy Percival was brought in to protect a 3-2 lead, but couldn't hold it. Wilton Guerrero channeled Kirk Gibson by scoring from second base on a wild pitch, to tie the game with two outs. On the next pitch, Zeile sent Dodger fans home happy by launching a homer into the left field bleachers, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 win. From Chris Baker of the LA Times:
"I think he was thinking about the one that got away," Zeile said of the wild pitch. "This is the only park in either league where a wild pitch scores a run from second.
"I wanted a fastball. I was geared for a fastball and he got one up. I think the wild pitch took the wind out of his sails and shifted the momentum to my side."
Said Percival: "I broke down on that pitch. I threw him a hard one and he knew it was coming."
Over the last twelve years, the Dodgers and Angels have played 68 interleague games, six per year for the last ten years. The Angels lead the all-time series 38-30. Here's a look at some of the individual leaders in those 68 games:
|Chan Ho Park
|Chan Ho Park||54|