Thirty years and two days ago*, Bob Brenly made four errors in one inning, and then he hit two home runs, the last one being a walk-off homer. If you think that sounds like something trivial, shame on you. This is a very important moment in the oh-my-god-what history of baseball, and it should be celebrated.
Here’s an article that you should read about the game. Here’s a video if you need a refresher, or if you stop to watch it every time it’s put in front of you:
It’s one of my favorite homers of all time, and it’s prompted these 10 assorted thoughts, facts, and tidbits. Y’all love a good tidbit.
1. Think of what a player committing two errors in an inning would make you feel. One error ticks you off enough. But two? Unacceptable. Complete buffoonery.
Brenly committed four. There’s a reason that tied a record, and I pity the poor player who ends up breaking it. That is some serious, "Looks like my work is done here, so I’ll just jetpack myself to the moon" kind of feeling he must have had.
The box score is compelling, too. The Braves also scored their fifth and sixth runs after an error by Robbie Thompson set up a home run, but you left that out of your narrative. How convenient.
2. Brenly shouldn’t have been there in the first place. He was a catcher, and he was playing third for ... reasons. He wasn’t a shaky defensive catcher. Never a Gold Glove candidate, true, but he wasn’t a liability.
The third baseman for the Giants, though, was the oft-injured Chris Brown (rest in peace), and Brenly was one of the better bats on the ‘86 Giants, so this was an easy way to rest his legs. But after the ... third error, don’t you have to replace him? The fourth, certainly. It’s a fine line between embarrassing a player by removing him and preventing a player from further embarrassment.
It's worth noting that wasn't Brenly's first game at third. He had played more than 50 there, most of them without incident. That was just a very, very bad day.
3. Brenly probably looked like a crusty old manager by the time he was 14. Here’s what he looked like when he was 32:
It’s the only thing that makes me happy that the Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series. He was designed to manage a World Series team.
4. Cool curveball, Paul Assenmacher.
5. The symphonic music the Giants played after every Candlestick win is something I didn’t realize was missing from my soul until right now.
6. Brenly’s career path was super odd. He wasn’t an unquestioned starter until he was 30, which was the year he made the All-Star Game. That came after years of hitting well in the minors, but moving up just one level at a time. The reason he didn’t advance quicker? Because he was undrafted and constantly having to prove himself.
There were 713 players drafted in the 1976 draft, and the Giants were the only team that stuck around until the end of the final round. They still didn’t come up with Bob Brenly until after all that.
A player like that would probably be the most eager kind of player to prove himself, I would think. And also the easiest player to feel absolutely devastated when he fails historically in front of a crowd like that.
7. I was there! Oh, I’m sure you all were, too, but I really was. My parents had a Sunday ticket package for years, and whenever I go to verify that I was at a good game, I make sure it’s a Sunday. This story checks out.
I don’t remember this game.
8. NO PEPPER.
GET THAT PEPPER OUT OF MY FACE, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
9. The bat flip was the most deserved bat flip of all time:
Maybe that’s what the surly old dudes mean when they grumble about bat flips. Save it for the real spots, like Jose Bautista last year. Or Brenly right there. Flip it to the moon, Mr. Brenly.
Oh, looking good, Grant. Hard to believe that you were struggling to adjust to junior high, but that was probably everyone else’s fault, not yours, ha ha, looking good.
The year? 1986. If I’m not there, the human personification of a four-error, two-homer game, maybe the game never happens. Maybe you’re not here right now. Makes you think.
Anyway, I actually set a reminder on my phone over a year ago to make Wednesday into a much bigger day, but I didn’t have the time, then the Giants crushed our spirits by getting swept by the Padres, and I figured that even if I rushed like a fool to cobble something together, someone else was going to do it better, and I was right.
Still, it’s an anniversary worth remembering. Thirty years (and two days) ago, Bob Brenly had a random performance in a random game from a season in which the Giants didn’t even make the postseason. There’s a reason we’re still talking about it.