This Day in Baseball History: July 13th, 1993

Have some fun tomorrow night, boys, regardless of what Bud says.

On July 13, 1993:

Randy Johnson lets one go.

John Kruk has frequently said that he was not an athlete, but he was a pretty good hitter. Busting out with a fantastic 1987 season, he slipped a little in 1988, but he was apparently afraid that his college roommate, who had robbed a bank, thought Kruk had turned him in. Consequently, Kruk was too stressed to play well because he feared his roommate would come for revenge. After that, Kruk was pretty consistent — average around .290, OBP around .380, and SLG around .450. From 1991-1993, he hit his stride as a Philadelphia Phillie (he was originally a San Diego Padre), making the All-Star Game in each of those seasons.

Then came the 1993 All-Star Game. Kruk didn’t play in the 1991 Game, but he was 2-for-2 in the 1992 Game. The 1993 Game, however, wasn’t so good, but it has become much more famous. In his first at-bat, Mark Langston struck him out, and in his third at-bat, Jimmy Key finished off the hat trick. But that second at-bat. What a memory. On the first pitch, Ivan Rodriguez, the AL catcher, quipped, “Let’s have some fun with this.” Kruk wasn’t sure what that meant, but when Randy Johnson let go of the pitch, it sailed up and over his head. Kruk bailed and feigned heart problems, but for the rest of his at-bat, Kruk stood at the back edge (farthest from the plate) and flailed until he struck out.

Kruk would later say that he would never get back in the box against, and indeed, he never did but not by choice. By 1993, Johnson was a scary sight for lefties, but he wasn’t too bad anymore. At age 29, he had finally started putting things together. Before 1993, his BB/9 ratios often topped 6, and with a 100 mph fastball, that was a bit scary to step in the box against. In 1993, Johnson began throwing more strikes, lowering his BB/9 to 3.5 overnight. Five years later, he would not walk more than 3 per nine again.

All of this led up to the 1997 game where Larry Walker got in the box from the right side, and Johnson, having a bit of fun, launched one over his head as well. This is the kind of thing I love about the All-Star Game, which has essentially been taken out by the “This Time It Counts”. The Game is for the players to relax and have some fun with their friends, and this just lets us see a different side of them. Who knew Randy Johnson had a sense of humor?

Trivia Time
Kruk’s career-high in stolen bases was ____?

July 2nd’s Answer –> Ed Delahanty is the only player to win a batting title in both leagues.

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