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Baseball's Unsung Hero
This book was created especially for
Robert Andrew Johnson
Mark, Dave and John
August 25, 2002
Bob Johnson had a list of chores a mile long Yet, it didn't matter because the Detroit Tigers were playing in the final game of the World Series The series was tied three games each and he decided that his chores could wait a few hours Bob grabbed the remote control, a bowl of chips, and a Coke and made himself comfortable in his favorite chair.
After a few balls got away from him, Bob decided to pack it in and head for the park just a couple of blocks away It'll come back to me once I'm in the game, so there's no need to warm up now, he thought.
Once Bob arrived at the stadium, he entered through the back entrance, got into the locker-room, and dressed for the game When he stepped into the stadium, he could hear the umpire call, "Play Ball!" and the crowd cheered Walking over to Bob, the coach had the look of death about him as he asked, "WHO ARE YOU?"
I'm Robert Johnson, said Bob "You called 123-4567 and I answered your call to the mound." "I can't believe this," said the coach, "This must be the lowest day in baseball I thought I called our best pitcher on the disabled list who was to be discharged from the hospital this morning I dialed 123-4567 and who do I get... you! If we don't start the game immediately we have to forfeit Walk quickly now to the mound and start throwing," the coach ordered, "We will just have to win this one on batting."
The announcer checked his notes and reported, "Pitching the final game of the 1976 World Series for the Detroit Tigers will be Bob Johnson." The announcer's words echoed throughout the stadium and into millions of homes on millions of TV's Everyone in Westland was stunned.
Bobwalked to the mound The crowd was silent The first inning was beginning Back in Westland, Mark, Dave and John were just picking up the TV guide and read the notice for today's game They, too, were grabbing their Cokes and chips and thinking about the sure bets they made on the Detroit Tigers.
As they turned on the set and settled into the furniture, Mark, Dave and John thought they heard the name Johnson while the volume was coming on Then, the picture became clear Shock filled the room Bob was on the mound! Popcorn flew everywhere and one observer in the group pounded his Coke can against his forehead All knew their investments were lost - their bets wiped out They had been done in by their very own Bob Johnson.
The announcer called the plays..."Bob is winding up for another pitch... crack... fly ball to center, number 18 is out." The next batter came to bat. "Bob Johnson pitches again... crack... this batter grounds to first and the first baseman makes an easy out." Now Bob was getting confident The crowd was warming up Mark, Dave and John hadn't moved a muscle or spoken a word since the first pitch. "And now Bob Johnson is winding up... the pitch... crack!... high fly to left aaaannnnnddd, yes, the outfielder catches the easy pop fly to retire to the side." The crowd actually began to cheer.
When the Detroit Tigers came to bat, they put up a gallant fight. The first batter pulled the ball hard to the third baseman. The play was made and the throw to first was unbelievable Even the replay showed it was a dead heat, but the umpire called the runner out The second batter pounded the ball to the wall, but the outfielder caught it as he crashed into the wall for the second out The third batter struck out This series was being played in the field and defense was going to be the deciding factor Innings two, three and four went three up and three down for each side.
Top of the fifth, Bob allowed a double, and a single Then a wild pitch sent the runner to third, home One to nothing. Bob was demoralized Another single put men on first and third with no outs Then, another wild pitch sent the runners to third and home Two to nothing Bob walked the next two batters The bases were loaded Bob was getting tired A slow pitch over the plate allowed the batter to hit a hot smash to second with one bounce The man on third went home while the second baseman forced the double play between second and first Now it was three to nothing with a runner at third with two outs A wild pitch sent the runner at third to home, but the catcher recovered the ball and threw it to Bob at the plate, retiring the inning when the tag was made
The coach told Bob to settle down "Just throw the ball over the plate and let the fielders do the rest," he said The next three innings were played quickly with neither side making any runs At the top of the ninth, Bob could barely send the ball the distance Two balls were grounded out to the shortstop The third batter pounded the ball into deep right field and foul where the right fielder made the catch to retire the side The score was still three to nothing with the Detroit Tigers to now have their
The sun was setting, the air was cool, and the fans were getting hot The lights were now coming on as the final game of the World Series was down to its last inning with the Detroit Tigers down by three runs in the bottom of the ninth The first batter struck out The pitcher was throwing hard fast balls The second batter struck out The third batter was up... WALK! Their last pitcher was burned out He was all over the place with his pitches The crowd went wild The next batter was up... WALK! Then the next batter... WALK! The bases were loaded! With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, here comes Bob Johnson to bat!
The crowd let out a groan! Bob was beginning to feel a little rejected He took a deep breath and stepped up to the plate.
"STRIKE ONE!!" yelled the umpire Bob didn't even see that one leave the pitcher's hand He stepped out of the box looking for a signal from the third base coach It was to hit away As the next pitch was released, Bob started his swing "STRIKE TWO!!" yelled the umpire Bob was beginning to get a little concerned 0 and two was the count, two outs, down by three, and three men on "This is it," thought Bob as the next pitch came in low and outside A deadly silence filled the stadium
It was gone! That ball left the park with the skin torn half off Bob Johnson had pounded out a Grand Slam to win the series for the Detroit Tigers in the final inning.
The Cokes were poured as the team accepted victory Bob got out of his uniform, went out the back way and hurried home in time to watch the post game show on TV Bob never returned to baseball and years later most everyone forgot his name He didn't even have a contract - pity.
This book is the last remaining evidence that Bob was truly a hero that day back in 1976 If you ask anyone who Bob Johnson is, they will tell you they have never heard of him, which is more sad proof that he has become "Baseball's Unsung Hero!"