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Non-Dodger fan recalls an artful game

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | August 3, 2022 11:55 PM

All I could really remember about the game was where I watched it: Red’s Bar.

And the four home runs. And of course, the announcer.

Since it was almost 16 years ago, the other details had frizzled and fried in my 59-year-old brain. I had to do research, in fact, a dangerous thing for someone who can disappear down baseballreference.com for hours.

It was Sept. 18, 2006, a Monday, and the Montana Football Grizzlies were getting ready to dismantle Sacramento State 59-14. I got out of the Missoulian and headed to Red’s, where bartender Von Richter had his favorite baseball team on the TV.

You can find the Dodgers’ epic game against the San Diego Padres that night on YouTube.com; by the way. You probably should. It’s a rewatchable.

The managers are Bruce Bochy for the Padres and Grady Little, recently exiled by the Boston Red Sox, for Los Angeles. Playing center for the Dodgers is Kenny Lofton; playing first base for San Diego is Adrian Gonzalez. Jeff Kent is wearing a Dodgers uniform; so is JD Drew.

Giving us play-by-play — I remember just a handful of people were in the bar — was Vin Scully.

Things didn’t look good for the Dodgers, after San Diego padded a 6-5 lead out to 9-5 in the top of the ninth inning. Then Los Angeles, and Scully, put on a clinic.

First Kent led off the Dodgers’ half of the ninth with a solo homer.

“So Atkins is heated rudely,” Scully said. “Two pitches, one run.”

He’d barely mentioned Drew when the Dodgers right fielder hit the next pitch for another solo shot.

“What is that line? ‘Do not go gentle into that good night,’“ Scully intoned.

By then Jon Adkins had been pulled for a former Billings Mustangs shortstop and future Hall of Famer named Trevor Hoffman. Russell Martin came to the plate.

Scully duly noted that Hoffman was 55 for 57 lifetime on save chances against Los Angeles.

“And the last time Trevor Hoffman has blown a save against the Dodgers was in April five years ago,” Scully began. “And a drive into left-center by Martin and that ball is carrying INTO THE SEATS. Russell Martin’s dad is ecstatic, the Dodgers are still a buck short.”

Marlon Anderson came to the plate next. The “crowd” at Red’s Bar is in disbelief.

“The folks who hung around to ride it out are in for quite a ride,” Scully said. “Well the Dodgers five home runs in the game tonight, the first time they’ve done that this year.”

Red’s patrons were well into “No freaking way” territory when Anderson swung.

“And another drive into high right-center, at the wall running and watching it go out. Believe it or not, four consecutive home runs and the Dodgers have tied it up AGAIN.”

Then Scully fell silent, for 27 seconds.

“They’re coming back in,” he said next, as the camera showed fans re-entering Dodger Stadium. “The people in the parking lot have decided they’d better come back.”

The memory had warped enough that I’d thought the four homers won it. Rafael Furcal flew out to the warning track for the third out, instead.

“Well, wouldn’t you know it’s going to extra innings?” Scully asked. “No I don’t think you did.”

In the 10th, the camera zoomed in on the skippers.

“Tough night for both managers,” Scully said (The Padres won the NL West that year). “Not to mention the fans.”

The inning was notable for San Diego’s Dave Roberts – that Dave Roberts, yes – flying out to fall to oh-for-6. And for pinch-hitter Paul McAnulty, in one of his 234 Major League at-bats, just missing a three-run homer. And for Josh Bard knocking in Brian Giles, who’d doubled, to put San Diego back in front.

Then Lofton led off the Dodgers’ 10th with a walk off Rudy Seanez, and Nomar Garciaparra, also recently exiled from the Red Sox, went yard. Game over.

Scully laughed, said, “Unbelievable,” and paused for almost 90 seconds as the crowd noise took over..

“I forgot to tell you;” he finally said. “The Dodgers are in first place.”

That last line – that’s the one other thing I remember.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com

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