By Jon D. Gaede
BVN Sports Staff
Anaheim Angels take the mighty Yankees of the East and hammer the Twins to earn first trip to the World Series in 42 years.
The team that once shared second billing to the Los Angeles Dodgers now finds itself on the virtual conveyer belt toward baseball heaven. Forty-two years ago the Los Angeles Angels played their brand of professional baseball at their temporary home, the Los Angeles Coliseum. The team was hatched out of the old Pacific Coast League and by now their original caps and jerseys must have found their way to E-Bay.
The Angels have had their share of individual talent. Nurtured and cultivated by the late Gene Autry who brought many big time ball players to Anaheim, the star studded list includes: Jimmy Piersall, Don Sutton, Bert Blylevyn, Alex Johnson, Jim Fregosi, and Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew and Reggie Jackson.
The 1986 team came within one pitch of the World Series, only to be hammered into oblivion by a heroic blast off the bat of Boston Red Sox hitter Dave Henderson. Tragically, the Angel pitcher who threw the pitch, Donnie Moore, ended up committing suicide. This time the joy has returned to Anaheim and after winning a team record 99 regular season games, expectations are high.
The Angels qualified for the 2002 playoffs by virtue of a "wild card" position. This gave them the daunting task to simply, "beat the Yankees!" The Bronx Bombers have virtually owned major league baseball post season by winning three of the last four World Series. The Angels conceded home field advantage to New York and took on the likes of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano as well as future hall of famers Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera, "The Mound People".
Sound Angel pitching and live bats challenged and defeated the power and mystique of the Yankee machine in four games (3-1). Big home runs from UCLA's Troy Glaus and a hot bat from Shaun Wooten helped chase Yankee pitching. After putting away the mighty team from New York, the Angel attack continued with new heroes in Minnesota.
The 2002 Angels are a nice mixture of veterans and over achieving youth. Troy Percival (RCC) and Adam Kennedy (Riverside North High School) led the way as each brought the Inland Empire into focus for the whole country. Kennedy tied a record set by Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson in hitting three home runs in the decisive fourth game over the Minnesota Twins, 13 to 5. Destiny seems to be in the cards for this Angel team that was a fifty to one long shot just to reach the World Series. From the shadows of the Coliseum to the sunshine of Edison Field, they have arrived!
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