Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Seventeen days ago Dave Criscione was a 25-year-old catcher for the Rochester Red Wings with a pregnant wife and a receding hairline.
Now he is a proud father, a major leaguer and probably the most popular man in Baltimore, although he is still losing his hair.
Criscione, called up to the Oriolesas a backup to Dave Skaggs on July 9 after a Don Gullett fast ball broke Rick Dempsey's hand, sent 8,209 fans and all his teammates into a state of bliss by blasting a Sam Hinds fast ball deep into the left-field bleachers in the 11th inning and giving the Orioles a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night. It was his first big league homer.
"This is super, unbelievable, incredible," the 5-foot-8 fireplug said as teammates, who emptied the dugout to greet him, whooped and hollered watching the replay on television. "Yeow! I mean I was dreaming about it just before I went up. I was looking to hit the ball hard. This is the greatest, most unbelievable week of my life. No one at my house is gonna sleep tonight."
Thursday, Criscione's wife, Marj, gave birth to a girl Sunday, in his first major league start, he had two hits and a sacrifice to set up the winning run. Today, when he arrived at the ballpark, a cake from a fan was waiting at his locker. And tonight at 10:44, Criscione's line drive crashed into Memorial Stadium's yellow bleacher seats and he was an instant hero.
"Davey really surprised me," manager Earl Weaver admitted. "I mean when an Eddie Murray or a Lee May goes up there, you're thinking homerun. With Dave you're just hoping for a single or a double. But, hell, he wasn't the only one. The guy that really surprised me was Sakata."
Lenn Sakata, a 23-year-old rookie second basemen from Hawaii, helped bring about the dramatic finish.
With the Orioles leading 2-1, in the ninth on home runs by Doug De-Cinces and Murray, the Brewers' Sakata came to the plate with one out, Jamie Quirk on first after a walk and Oriole rookie Dennis Martinez on the mound.
"Sakata, batting 150 in seven big league games, caught a Martinez slider on the fat part of bat and lifted it into the left-field sets for his fourth major league hit and first home run.
"I guess I know how Criscione feels even it was only a few minutes." Sakata said with a weak smile in the quiet Milwaukee clunhouse.
Sakata lost his chance to be the hero when reliever Bill Castro could not preserve the lead for Jim Slaton in the bottom of the ninth.
Lee May greeted him with a single to left and Mark Belanger ran for May. DeCinces flied out to right but Al Bumbry, pinch hitting for Kiko Garcia, singled.
After Andres Mora walked to load the bases, Billy Smith lined a single to right.
But Bumbry, who has an ailing leg, pulled up rounding third. Smith, thinking the game was over, rounded first and was tagged for the second out. Tom Shopay struck out to send the game into extra innings.
There were some scattered boos from the crowd when Weaver failed to pinch hit for Shopay. But no one was, booing after Criscione leaned into a fastball from Hinds, who had come on in the 10th to pitch out of a one-out, man-on-second situation.