Brandon Crawford, the sixth guy -- according to the broadcasters -- in the history of baseball to hit a grand slam in his first game. Wow! I'm glad I have something to write about other than Buster Posey after all. Instead, I get one of my favorite topics, baseball and memory.
Here's the thing. As soon as Crawford's HR went out of the park, I immediately said -- Bobby Bonds. I didn't think it was nearly as rare as (again, according to the broadcasters) it turned out to be, but I clearly knew that Bonds did it. I knew that it was against the Dodgers, too, although I thought that he had another hit, maybe a double, in the game, which was wrong; I think I once knew it was a 9-0 game, but I had forgotten that. Here's the box from it.
Now, the problems. I thought I remembered watching it, but that's clearly (I assume!) wrong; it's a Tuesday game, and there were no nationally televised Tuesday games in 1968. Since it was the Dodgers, though, we were almost certainly listening on the radio; the Dodgers had an affiliate in Phoenix, as I've mentioned here before (we also could sometimes get the Giants station from San Francisco, but we wouldn't be doing that against the Dodgers). Could I really be remembering it from then? I was 4 -- 4 1/2, if that helps -- in June 1968. Seems unlikely, no? I have no-question clear baseball memories from 1970, and perhaps from 1969, but nothing else from 1968, I don't think. But there's a bit more. I seem to have a memory of seeing Bonds play for the Phoenix Giants. Two memories: one is my dad saying that we had to go out and see him, because he wasn't going to stay there long; and then a specific memory of watching him pull up at third with a triple. Real, or not? No idea. Bonds hit 7 triples in 60 games with Phoenix that summer, for whatever that's worth. Did I conflate that with some other player hitting a triple a couple years later? Was it really Bonds that I remember my dad talking about, or someone else, later -- or was it Bonds, but what I'm really remembering is my dad telling the story after the fact?
I can tell you only what I remember, and what, from looking it up, could have been the case. That's about it.
Now, I'm pretty sure I remember seeing the famous Mays/Bonds catch live on NBC's Game of the Week (Bonds and Mays converge in right-center, Mays leaps over Bonds and higher than the old Candlestick fence to catch it). That was in 1970. It certainly makes sense I would have been watching, since we only saw the Giants on TV a few times a year. But since that catch wound up being part of the Game of the Week opener for a while, it's possible that's what I remember. I don't think so, though.
Here's something I didn't know about Bonds until now: he lost it overnight. In 1979, age 33, he had an OPS+ of 122, playing every day, so he was a solidly above right fielder. The next year for the first time in his major league career he just didn't hit: OPS+ 71. And then in 1981, age 35, OPS+ 96...he tried again the next year in the minors, didn't hit at all (300 OBP/321 SLG in ~100 PAs), and that was that. Of course, Bobby Bonds was a truly great player, but with no value at all past age 33, not a HOFer.
Just amazing that someone could do something that doesn't seem all that extraordinary in 2011 and have it be only the sixth time in major league history.