The year was 1982 and the San Francisco Giants, who would eliminate the Los Angeles Dodgers from contention on the last day of the season, were playing the Pete Rose-led Philadelphia Phillies, when a light-hitting, backup second baseman named Duane Kuiper, won a ball game in the bottom of the ninth.
It was July 18th and Atlee Hammaker was pitching for the Giants. He gave up a first-inning, two-run home run to Mike Schmidt, and an RBI single to Pete Rose and that was it for the complete nine innings. He didn’t walk anyone and he struck out four. The Giants had managed only two runs on a Joe Morgan solo homer and a Jack Clark RBI single, both runs coming in the bottom of the third.
Though the Giants were only 43-49 at the time the game was played, they would get hot twice during the summer, winning ten in a row in August, and 18 of 22 at one point in September, bringing the whole season down to the final weekend, with the Atlanta Braves, Giants and Dodgers all in contention for the National League West title.
For the only time both the Giants and the Dodgers would eliminate each other on the final two games of the season, while the Braves strolled away with the NL West title. The Dodgers won the first two games of that final series, the second game, 15-3. But the Giants, behind a three-run shot by Joe Morgan, won the finale, leaving the Dodgers watching the playoffs on television, the same as them.
Johnnie (Boo) Lemaster was the shortstop for the Giants and Reggie Smith was on first base. Chili Davis was roaming center and Max Venable made a pinch-running appearance during the game. Jack Clark was in right and Champ Summers was in left. Duane Kuiper, who played for the Giants from 1982 until his release in June of 1985, was back-up to Joe Morgan.
For the Phils, Larry Christenson started and went eight-plus innings, before being relieved by Tug McGraw. Others in the Phillies’ lineup besides Rose and Schmidt, included Bob Dernier (CF), former Giant Gary Matthews in left, Manny Trillo at second and Ivan DeJesus at shortstop.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Jack Clark drew a walk and Reggie Smith, the former Dodger, singled to right field, with Clark advancing to third. After Tug McGraw relieved Christenson, catcher Milt May struck out before Jim Wohlford reached base safely on an error by Trillo, Clark scoring on the play. After Tom O’Malley lined out to left field, Duane Kuiper stepped up to the plate and hit-what else?-a single to win it.
Considering how well he calls a game, it figures that Kuip would have had a bat in on his share of walk-off hits during his career.