Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Lefferts linked in history to A's walk-off homer feat

Lefferts linked in history to A's walk-off homer feat

OAKLAND -- Brandon Hicks' walk-off home run on Wednesday was important enough for Oakland, since it gave the team a big win against the first-place Rangers. But it also helped the A's accomplish a feat that hadn't been done for 26 years.

Along with catcher Derek Norris, Hicks became the second A's player to hit a walk-off for his first career homer this year. That made Oakland the first team to have two players do so in the same season since the Padres in 1986, according to David Vincent of SABR.

Benito Santiago completed the feat back then on Sept. 17, but the first person to hit the milestone homer for San Diego was Craig Lefferts on April 25, who smashed an 0-2 curveball from Giants pitcher Greg Minton into the seats at Jack Murphy Stadium in the bottom of the 12th to give the Padres a 9-8 win.

What's amazing about that is Lefferts was a pitcher, and a reliever at that. It would prove to be a record-setting year for him, as the 83 appearances he accrued still stands as a single-season franchise record.

What's more amazing is Lefferts now works in the A's organization -- he's the pitching coach for Class A Advanced Stockton -- meaning he's associated with the last two franchises to have done the rare feat.

Lefferts called the walk-off one of the "most exciting" things that happened to him in a career that spanned 12 years. He wasn't even supposed to have played that day because he had come down with the flu and spent the game in the trainer's room until the seventh or eighth inning.

But Padres manager Steve Boros ran out of arms in the extra-inning affair and summoned Lefferts out of necessity, setting him up for what became an indelible memory.

"To hit a home run, just doing that was great, but to win the game was extra special," Lefferts said. "For the A's to have it happen a couple of times is really cool."

Adding to the craziness is that the fifth and sixth spots in the order for the opposing Giants were occupied by right fielder Chili Davis and catcher Bob Melvin. Davis is now the A's hitting coach, and Melvin, of course, is the team's manager.

Melvin said he does recall Lefferts' feat, though Davis did not. They also became teammates of Lefferts when he was traded to the Giants in 1987.

And because baseball doesn't settle for anything too normal, there's one more incredible part of this story. After Lefferts hit his long ball, Padres catcher Terry Kennedy gave him a hug and told him he had never even hit a walk-off himself, and here was a reliever doing it.

Four days later, Kennedy hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Padres a 5-4 win over the Cubs.

Lefferts, who pitched one perfect inning of relief, was the winning pitcher.