ON THIS DATE (April 17, 1986) ... There
are a few moments that a good hitter savors above all others. Don
Baylor experienced his first cherished accomplishment in a Red Sox
uniform. Baylor's jubilant reaction to his 11th career grand slam was
an indication to the Fenway Park crowd of 10,493 about the importance
of his first game-winning hit for Boston. Its significance
transcended the fact that it gave the Sox a 6-2 victory, their first
Fenway triumph in three games this season.
When Baylor, a la Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, raised his hands
gleefully after his eighth-inning shot snapped a 2-2 tie, it was evident that
the 17-year veteran had passed the test. One of the reasons the Red Sox had
obtained him was his reputation for delivering with games on the line, and he
came through as advertised.
Baylor's leadership qualities and drill sergeant approach are well documented.
But what makes him even more valuable is his toughness under pressure.
The situation was tailor-made for Baylor, who like a lot of his teammates has
been frustrated by the Red Sox' inconsistency at the plate. Boston had five hits
yesterday, all for extra bases. But the Sox were still tied after seven innings,
and it appeared that another good pitching effort by Roger Clemens would not be
But the opposition pitching fell apart for a change. Ironically, KC starter Mark
Gubicza triggered the Royals' downfall by walking Evans with one out. The rally
seemed to stall when Wade Boggs lined to left. But Bill Buckner followed with a
booming double off the wall, ending Gubicza's day and setting the stage for
So Dick Howser brought in right-hander Steve Farr, whose breaking ball has been
known to fool right-handed batters. But when Rice didn't bite for any bad
pitches, drawing a walk that loaded the bases, Farr had to face Baylor.
Farr was ahead on the count, 1-and-2, after dodging a bullet. Baylor smashed a
low breaking ball to left but hooked it foul. Then he took the 1-2 pitch under
his chin. He lofted the next pitch into the screen. Baylor, who is now third
among active players in grand slams, maintained this was just one battle he won.