Sunday, April 28, 2013

In Memoriam: Rick Camp

This past week, former pitcher Rick Camp passed away at the age 60.  He pitched for the Atlanta Braves from 1976-1985.  For his career, Camp accumulated 57 career saves with a 56-49 record and an ERA of 3.37.  But, he is most remembered for his contribution in one of the craziest 4th of July games in baseball history in 1985.
1983 Topps
For this game, the New York Mets visited the Atlanta Braves for the beginning of a weekend series and for the fans, July 4th fireworks were scheduled after the game.  Mother nature had other plans though as it rain most of the day.  The skies did clear up after a rain delay at the start of the game.  The game was rather uneventful for the first seven innings that included another rain delay that led to a very wet playing field.  Mets held a 7-4 lead going into bottom of the eighth.  Dale Murphy led a 4 run inning with a 3 run double and Braves took the 8-7 lead into the ninth.  But future Hall of Famer, Bruce Sutter couldn't hold the lead as the Mets scrored a run to tie it up 8-8.  So, as the clock was after midnight, extra innings began.   The game remained scoreless until the 13th inning when Mets' Howard Johnson hit a two run homer, but in the bottom of the inning, Terry Harper of the Braves countered with one of his own.  After more scoreless innings, the 17th came around.  During the inning, Mets manager Davey Johnson and outfielder Darryl Strawberry were ejected for arguing balls and strikes by umpire Terry Tata.  Tata responded by saying, "At three o'clock in the morning, there are no bad calls".
In the top of the 18th, New York managed to score a run on a Rick Camp throwing error.  Braves had the bottom of order due up and needed to score a run in order to stay alive.  After two quick outs and Atlanta out of positional players for pitch hitting, Rick Camp stepped up to plate.  Camp, a career .060 hitter,  lined a ball over the left field wall.  Onto the 19th inning they went.  Camp lost his hero status and gave up 5 runs that resulted in a 16-11 Mets lead.  Braves rallied and scored two runs of their own and loaded the bases.  None other than Rick Camp came up to bat, but this time Ron Darling struck him out.
Game ended after 19 innings and six plus hours later with a 16-13 New York Mets win.   For those old enough to remember it, this contest is known as the "Rick Camp Game".  And yes, the fireworks did go on as scheduled after the game.  The citizens of Atlanta were awaken by the loud fireworks at 4 AM.

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