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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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August 29,1977

Posted 05-21-2018 at 08:53 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 09-18-2018 at 08:39 AM by TommyJohn

August 29,1977
vs. Cleveland Indians
at Cleveland Stadium

Every once in a while a player hits a home run of such significance that it immediately becomes bigger than the game and passes into legend, destined to be forever celebrated in prose and song. The home run immortalizes not only the batter who hit it, but the pitcher who gave it up. The two are joined together forever, linked by that one moment in time. Babe Ruth and Charlie Root. Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca. Bill Mazeroski and Ralph Terry. Roger Maris and Tracy Stallard. Hank Aaron and Al Downing. Duane Kuiper and Steve Stone. Waitaminute......WHAT??? What is that last pair doing here?

The game this night saw a home run of monumental historical significance, at least in the career of Duane Kuiper. This was the game in which he hit not just any home run, but THE home run. 41 years later, Steve Stone has yet to live it down.

The Sox went into the game in 2nd place, only 3 games back. Because they were still in a pennant race, the game was carried nationally on Monday Night Baseball, so all of America got to see the historic moment.

Stone and the Sox took the field in an ornery mood to begin with, as they were notified that the game would start 10 minutes earlier than they thought. Stone was mad because he felt he didn't get enough time to warm up. Maybe he was right.

The game began innocently enough. Indians starter Rick Waits went through the top of the Sox order with little trouble in the top of the 1st. Stone struck out leadoff hitter Paul Dade to start the bottom of the inning, bringing Kuiper to the plate.

Kuip was in the middle of a futility streak of major proportions. He had broken in with the Indians in 1974 and had yet to hit a home run in 1,381 at bats. Stone whipped ball one past Duane. Then it happened.

Kuiper took Stone's second pitch and belted a line drive to right field. It had just enough height and distance. The ball hit the hands of a fan standing in the first row, then bounded back onto the field. Kuiper was so ecstatic he ran around the bases, clapped his hands once and joyfully slapped hands with the 3rd base coach before touching the plate.

The home run seemed to rattle Stone and the Sox. Two batters later Andre Thornton hit a shot that Richie Zisk attempted to catch at the shoestrings. Instead the ball got away from him and rolled to the wall. By the time Zisk was able to retrieve the ball Thornton had circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Bruce Bochte followed that up with another home run, this one of the over-the-fence variety.

Cleveland played like a team inspired after that. They slammed Stone for 3 more runs, the last coming in the 6th inning, before Bob Lemon came and got Stone. Silvio Martinez came in and gave up 3 more, including a home run to Thornton and an RBI single to Kuiper.

The Sox didn't help the situation any with their fielding follies-they committed four errors in the game, including two which allowed runs to score. Even old pro Don Kessinger wasn't immune, fielding a grounder in the 8th inning and tripping over his own feet as he went to make the throw.

The Indians, who had been on a hot streak, took this one 9-2 for the 15th win in their last 21. The loss pushed the Sox to 72-56 and back down to 3rd place.

As for Duane Kuiper, it was his lone moment in the sun in a career that lasted until 1985. The Ruthian drive off Stone was his only trip around the bases in 3,379 career at bats.

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