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Voice of '86: Angels outfielder Gary Pettis

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Gary Pettis was a Gold Glove center fielder for the '86 California Angels. He had a breakout series against the Red Sox in the playoffs, batting .346 and scoring four runs. Late in the series' pivotal Game 5, moments before Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson hit a dramatic come-from-behind home run off of Donnie Moore, Pettis had been voted the ALCS MVP. However, the Angels lost the game and eventually the series, and Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett earned the series MVP honor.

Gary Pettis
Gary Pettis, shown in 1989 with Detroit, hit .346 with California in the '86 ALCS and also played for the Rangers and the Padres.
"We realized we had a very good team in spring training, but we didn't hit full stride until after the All-Star break. We came back and won a lot of games where we were down going into the seventh and eighth or ninth inning. Any time you do stuff like that, it builds the idea that no matter what the score is, you have an opportunity to win the ballgame.

"It was the first time I was involved in the playoffs. So the excitement of being there, and the chance to go to the World Series, is one of the biggest things I've experienced. I remember feeling like once a game was over, I couldn't wait for the next game to begin. Even when we lost a game, we still were on a high.

"I remember hitting a home run off (Dennis) 'Oil Can' Boyd. Another thing I remember was in Game 5, late in the game, I hit a ball over Jim Rice's head. It was after the Henderson home run and we tied the game. Then, later, I hit a ball that might have gone over the fence had I not hit the ball over Rice's head earlier, but he was playing farther back and was able to make the play. Sometimes, even things you do well end up hurting you in the end.

"My memory of the Henderson at-bat is kind of sketchy. But we all realized that we were just a strike away from going to the World Series. The fans realized it. We had security set up. I remember seeing police on horses. It was just awesome.

"I don't believe the Boston players felt the series was over after Game 5. Maybe you could say that after the fact, but knowing that you have to win two games and the other team only has to win one, there's no way. Heading back to Boston, we all still felt confident we could win one of the two ballgames. Winning one of two games didn't sound like a big deal. But the Red Sox came out and did what they needed to do.

"I think about the series when people bring it up. From time to time, you wonder about what it might have been like to play in the World Series. But in terms of doing anything different, there's nothing we could have done.

"It's just one of those things that happens. That's professional sports. Things are gonna go your way at times, and at other times they may not. All we want as athletes is to have an opportunity to play in such a game."

Pettis is now a coach for the Chicago White Sox.

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