July 19, 1982 – Toby Harrah Walkoff Gets Tribe Back to .500
After three seasons with the Tribe, Toby Harrah was not pleased with the direction the Indians were taking. He did not mince words. “I am tired of playing .500 ball or being the spoiler. It has been the same every year and I’m sick of it. We need a more balanced bullpen… We need a team that doesn’t have 12 designated hitters and 6 first basemen. All of this is management’s fault.”
In mid-July of 1982, the Indians were once again in 6th place in the AL East, ahead of only the Blue Jays. The day before, the Indians celebrated a rare walkoff win on a pinch hit RBI triple by Bill Nahrodny.
On this Monday evening in July a sparse crowd of under 12,000 was scattered around Municipal Stadium to see the Indians take on the Oakland A’s. Steve McCatty started for the A’s while the Tribe sent Lary Sorenson to the mound.
Indians’ second baseman Larry Milbourne bookended the previous night’s performance with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first. He was driven home by a Toby Harrah groundout to get the Tribe on the Board 1-0.
The A’s tied things up in the top of the third when Ricky Henderson walked with two outs, stole second, and was driven home by a Dwayne Murphy single to center field. A two run homer by Jeff Newman put Oakland ahead 3-1.
Von Hayes doubled to right to lead off the bottom of the fourth. After fly-outs by Rick Manning and Ron Hassey, Carmello Castillo drove Hayes in with a single past the shortstop, cutting the A’s lead to one run.
The teams continued to battle through the middle innings, with Oakland notching another run on a Jeff Burroughs homer to lead off the top of the 6th. Von Hayes had another leadoff hit in the Indians half of the sixth, and scored again on a Ron Hassey single to right.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians would find themselves down one run with one out and the bases loaded. Larry Milbourne lofted a sacrifice fly to right. Rick Manning tagged up to score the tying run.
Down to their final out, Toby Harrah stepped to the plate and smacked a sharp one to third base. A’s third baseman Wayne Gross lofted the throw to first, which would likely have put Harrah out and sent the game to extra innings. Instead, Jack Perconte hustled home to give the Tribe their second walkoff win in as many nights and put the team back at .500 with a 44 and 44 record for the season.
Harrah would go on to play all 162 games of the 1982 season for the Indians, and have the best hitting season of his career. He finished the year batting .304 with.183 hits, 25 home runs, and 100 runs scored. However, the Indians would finish 78-84 and once again 6th in the AL East.