On This Date in Sports 6/25/2000: Darin Erstad Bookends Twins

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 It is Darin Erstad at the start and Darin Erstad at the finish, as the Anaheim Angels designated hitter becomes the third player in MLB history to have a leadoff home run and a walk-off home run in the same game. Erstad’s heroics lead the Angels to a 7-6 win in 11 innings over the Minnesota Twins at Edison Field in Anaheim. Since Erstad, an additional three have had a leadoff and a walk-off in the same game. 

Darin Erstad was born on June 4, 1974, in Jamestown, North Dakota. A two-sport star at Jamestown High School, Erstad was drafted by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the 1992 draft, but he chose to attend Nebraska instead. At Nebraska, Darin Erstad played football and was the punter on the 1994 National Championship team. Continuing his baseball career, Erstad was MVP of the Cape Cod League and drafted first overall in the 1995 draft. Darin Erstad made his debut with the Angels in 1996 and showed early promise as a leadoff hitter and gold glove outfielder. 

Darin Erstad’s finest season came in 2000. He made his second All-Star appearance and won both the gold glove and silver slugger awards. On Sunday night in Anaheim, Erstad was given half of the game off by manager Mike Scioscia who took him out of the field but kept his bat in the lineup by using hm as the Designated Hitter against the Minnesota Twins. The Angels entered the game at 38-35, while the Twins were scuffling at 32-43. The Twins had Mark Redman on the mound, while Brian Cooper made the start for Anaheim. 

The Angels took the early lead as Darin Erstad led off the game with his 15th home run of the year. The Twins scratched out a run in the fourth inning to tie the game. In the bottom of the fourth, the Angels jumped back in front 4-1 as Garrett Anderson had a three-run bomb. The Twins would take the lead in the sixth inning, scoring five runs, as Corey Koskie’s double tied the game and chased Brian Cooper from the game. Reliever Al Levine struggled, allowing two more runs to score, including one on a bases-loaded walk. Trailing 6-4, the Angels scored twice in the seventh to tie the game 6-6. The game went into extra innings as Twins closer Eddie Guardado came on in the ninth, while Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in to pitch for Anaheim in the tenth. Both relievers were pitching well. Hasegawa had two perfect innings under his belt, while Everyday Eddie had allowed one hit as he looked to finish a third inning of work when Darin Erstad came up with two outs in the 11th inning. Erstad was the first batter that Guardado faced in the ninth inning and popped up to the catcher. This time Darin Erstad drove a ball into the right-field seats to end the ninth with a 7-6 win for the Halos.  

It was the third time in MLB history that someone led off the game with a home run and won the same game with a walk-off home run. Billy Hamilton of the Philadelphia Phillies was first to do it on May 17, 1893, against the Washington Senators. Next, it was Vic Power who did for the Kansas City Athletics against Baltimore Orioles on May 7, 1957. After Erstad’s bookend game in 2000, three additional players have accomplished the lead off-walk off double. On June 15, 2003, Reed Johnson of the Toronto Blue Jays did against the Chicago Cubs. Ian Kinsler did it for the Texas Rangers on July 19, 2009, against the Minnesota Twins. It last occurred on August 7, 2010, when Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks did it against the San Diego Padres.