Oct. 27 marks the 13th anniversary of the greatest moment in Angels history


Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

True Angels fans remember exactly where they were on October 27th, 2002 when Rory Markus uttered the famous words that still send chills up and down my body.

“Fly ball, center field, Erstad says he’s got it. Erstad makes the catch! The Anaheim Angels are champions of baseball.”

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the greatest moment in Angels baseball history. There were 44,598 fans who experienced the moment live at then Edison International Field. My best friend Dave and I, along with his dad, whom I consider my “second dad” because he fanned the flames of my love for baseball growing up, were seated in section 430 down the right field watching and waiting in anticipation for this magic moment.

I still can’t believe that this actually happened as the Angels had such a cursed history it seemed up until this magic day in 2002. The fact that I was able to be there for this moment with my best friend was like a scene out of a Hollywood movie. I’m sure many of you long-time Angels fans may have had similar moments to mine.

I was actually able to be at every clinching game of the playoffs that year. First when the Angels knocked out the Yankees in game four of the ALDS.  Then in one of the more dramatic games of the Angels playoff run, game five of the ALCS where the Angels trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning and facing the possibility of having to travel back to Minnesota for game six, Adam Kennedy intervened with a towering three-run homer. Kennedy’s homer was his third of the game against future Twins ace Johan Santana that ignited a 10-run seventh inning and propelled the Halos into their first World Series in club history.

For probably the most memorable game of the World Series, game six, I was not at Edison International Field, and believe it or not I was not even watching the game on TV. Instead, I was on the sidelines at the Santa Ana Bowl covering the Ocean View High vs. Santa Ana High football game. I was checking my phone every so often hoping for a miracle that would allow me to attend game seven of the World Series, and I was disappointed every time I checked the score. I told myself after the Giants went ahead 5-0 in the fifth inning that I would not check my phone for an hour which would be right around halftime of the football game.

Right before halftime, I heard a cheer go up in the bleachers behind me from a group of fans who were watching the game on a portable TV. The PA announcer happily updated the crowd of about 200 at the ‘Bowl,’ telling us that Scott Spiezio had just hit a three-run homer and the Angels trailed 5-3 going into the eighth inning. This perked up my mood slightly, but I still did not fully believe in the “Power of the Rally Monkey.” During the Santa Ana band’s halftime show, I had my eyes fixed on the crowd across the field watching the game, hoping to see a positive reaction which would mean the Angels were getting closer.

Just at the end of the Santa Ana Band’s rendition of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ I heard a cheer go up from the fans across the way. Our trusty PA announcer updated us saying “Home run Darin Erstad,” which made it a one-run game at 5-4. As the second half started in the entertaining football game which Ocean View would win 42-35, another small cheer went up so I knew the Angels probably had a base runner. Moments later, another small cheer went up and so I figured there were two runners on now. I stared intently watching for any reaction from the fans across the way.  My heart was pounding as I knew that my chance of going to game seven were increasing with every pitch.

Moments later, I heard a huge cheer and I knew that the Angels had done it even before our trusty PA announcer would tell us that Troy Glaus had just hit a two-run double to give the Angels an improbable 6-5 lead. I leaped into the air with excitement and I’m sure the Santa Ana football players on the sideline thought I had lost my mind as the football game was in a timeout. I told a few people who were looking at me that I was going to game seven if the Angels won.

After the Angels rally had ended, I waited what seemed like an eternity for the game to go final (why I did not go up to the stands and watch the last three outs on the portable TV I have no idea). I then heard the crowd behind me yell “One,” telling me there was one out in the ninth Moments later, (it still seemed like years) I heard the same fans yell “Two,” so I knew the Angels were one out away from forcing a game seven. Finally, I heard a huge cheer echoing through the stadium and I knew I was going to game seven as the Angels had done the unthinkable, rallying from a five-run deficit to win game six of the World Series (I guess it goes to show you to never underestimate the “Power of the Rally Monkey”).

Heading to write my story for the Orange County Register, I was in seventh heaven not believing what had just transpired or that I would be at game seven of the World Series the next night for the final clinching game of the Angels’ magical run. I am a sports fanatic and have experienced many great sports moments over the years, but none will ever compare to the feeling I had on this 27th day of October, 13 years ago, watching our Angels finally reach the top of the baseball mountain. Again, to be able to be part of this moment and share it with some very special people in my life will be something I will never forget.

So I pose this question to you, where were you when the Angels won the 2002 World Series and Rory Markus made his famous call? Let us know in the comments.