May 23, 1970 – Jack Heidemann Walkoff in the 13th vs Yankees
One of the best things about baseball is that sometimes the most unremarkable teams and the least likely players end up being heroes for a day.
The 1970 Indians were one of the most forgettable teams in Tribe history, finishing 5th in the AL East with a record of 76 and 86. Sam McDowell and Ray Fosse are probably the only 1970 teammates with name recognition beyond the most loyal fans.
Just over 6,800 tickets were sold for the Saturday afternoon contest with the Yankees on the lakefront. The fans who actually attended got to see plenty of baseball, though. The Indians matched up starter Rich Hand (no relation to current Tribe reliever Brad) with the Yankees Gary Waslewski.
Hand would scatter two runs on five hits over the first six innings. Waslewski lasted only four innings, giving up two runs on four hits, including a two-run home run by left fielder Duke Sims in the bottom of the 4th. Pete Ward pinch hit for Waslewski in the top of the 5th and then was replaced by Ron Klimkowski on the mound.
The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 7th on an RBI single by Frank Tepedino. The Tribe answered in the bottom of the 8th when Duke Sims teed off again, this time with a solo home run.
In extra innings, Indians reliever Phil Hennigan was brilliant, retiring 9 out of 10 Yankees in the 11th, 12th, and 13th. In the bottom of the 13th, Duke Sims trotted to first after being hit by a pitch. Backup third baseman Larry Brown sent Duke to third on a ground-rule double.
With runners on first and third, the Yankees brought in reliever Jack Aker and intentionally walked the dangerous rookie Ray Fosse (who would go on to win the Gold Glove for 1970 and hit .307 with 18 HR).
Stepping in for his 6th plate appearance of the day, shortstop Jack Heidemann’s only hit of the day was the game winner. He poked a single to left field, scoring Sims and sending the Tribe home victorious.
Thirty-four players saw action in this extra-inning contest, which took nearly four hours to play.
The next day, Tony Horton would hit three home runs in the second-half of a twi-night double header the next day (Game 37), but the Indians would lose 7-8.