BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 25, 2018, five years ago today:
Former Boise Hawk Gleyber Torres becomes the youngest player in American League history to hit home runs in four consecutive games. The 21-year-old Yankees shortstop hit a go-ahead blast in the seventh inning to beat the L.A. Angels 2-1. It was Torres’ fifth homer in six games — and his ninth since being called up by the Yanks for the first time the previous month. He’d end up with 24 homers for the season and would finish third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Torres blasted 38 homers in his second season in 2019. Now in his sixth season, Torres is still playing second base for the Yankees and is batting .258 with seven home runs.
I’ve lost count of the number of Hawks alumni to make the majors. It’s somewhere around 150, a number that will be on hold for a while — at least until the franchise is affiliated with a major league club again. The former Hawk with the longest big-league career is still active today. Lefthander Rich Hill is also the oldest player in the majors at age 43. Hill is currently with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his 12th big league team in a 19-year career. He’s a respectable 4-4 for the Pirates with a 4.27 ERA. Hill’s career record is 86-63.
Garret Anderson, who played in Boise in 1990, was in the majors for 17 years, most of them with the Angels. He hit .293 with 287 home runs and 1,365 runs batted in and holds 13 Angels franchise records. Anderson’s peak moments came in 2002 when he smacked a game-winning three-run double in Game 7 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, and in 2003 when he won the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby and was named MVP of the Midsummer Classic the following day.
Another Boise product who enjoyed major league longevity was pitcher John Lackey, who was a Hawk in 1999. In 2002, Lackey became the first rookie pitcher to win a Game 7 in the World Series since 1909 in that same Angels contest that was won by Anderson’s double. Lackey came within a game of a 20-win season in 2007, when he went 19-9 with an American League-leading 3.01 ERA. He’d be part of two more World Series titles — with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and the Chicago Cubs in 2016. Lackey’s career record was 188-147.
The Hawk with the most circuitous route to stardom was Angels closer Troy Percival. He arrived in Boise as a catcher in 1990 and hit .203. That wasn’t going to crack it. But Angels brass liked the way Percival’s rocket arm chased runners on the basepaths, and in 1991 he returned to Boise, where manager Tom Kotchman converted him to a closer. Percival recorded 12 saves in helping the Hawks to their first Northwest League championship. By 1995, he was in Anaheim, and he lasted 14 big league seasons as one of baseball’s premier closers. His best season was, not coincidentally, 2002, when the Angels won it all. And yes, Percival got the save in Game 7.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)
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