10/05/2002 00:23 am ET
Rally, Monkey bring crowd back
By Jim Street / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- After waiting 16 years for another meaningful game in October, Angels fans had to wonder early Friday night if it was worth the wait.
There wasn't much for them to cheer about. But maybe it was by design.
Everyone entering Edison Field for Game 3 of the American League Division Series were handed two Thunder Sticks. To make them work, fans had to blow them up on their own and that, undoubtedly, left them breathless for a few innings.
So, when the Angels fell behind the Yankees by five runs after just 2 1/2 innings, the fans were as red-faced as the players. A really bad gaffe by third
baseman Troy Glaus in the first inning and some pretty poor pitching by young starter Ramon Ortiz kept the full house quiet and the Rally Monkey in his cage.
"I couldn't be any happier for them," Erstad said. "They've been through a lot
through the history of this organization. You wouldn't believe how many people
come up to you, season-ticket holders for 30 years or whatever, they come up to
you and they're like, 'We've been waiting for this. We've been loyal.'"
But the fans started getting loud in the bottom of the third inning when the Angels scored two runs and basically increased the volume for the next five innings, not calming themselves down until the Angels left the field with a 9-6
victory over the Yankees, putting the AL Wild Card team one large step away from the next round.
There was almost as much red at Edison Field as on any given Saturday at the University of Nebraska, center fielder Darin Erstad's alma mater.
And about as much noise as there was at nearby John Wayne Airport.
And Friday night, they were loud.
"It was loud," Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. "I didn't think I'd ever
hear anything as loud as New York, but these fans were really into it."
The Thunder Sticks made it even louder.
"What? No, I didn't see any sticks," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I
could tell they were waving something, but you don't try to figure out what it
is. The fans were great."
The Angels ordered 200,000 of the plastic tubes for the postseason and almost
50,000 pairs of them were being pounded against one another in Anaheim's first
postseason game since 1986, when Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson broke a
region's collective heart with a shot heard around... Orange County. Hendu's
ninth-inning home run dashed the Angels' hopes of closing out the Red Sox in five. Boston won the series in seven to advance onto the World Series.
There were a lot of folks in the stadium Friday night not even born when that happened.
Not even the Rally Monkey.
The world's -- or at least Orange County's -- most celebrated primate made his
first appearance of Game 3 in the sixth inning after the Angels scored one run
and cut what had been a five-run gap to one run at 6-5. Everyone not wearing
road gray uniforms cheered loudly.
The Monkey appeared again in the seventh inning when the Angels tied the game at
6-6 and the crowd favorite had an encore in the eighth inning -- after Anaheim
had taken the lead for the first time in the game.
Leave it to the Monkey to accept credit for the best home victory in such a long
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of MLB or its clubs.