Rick Camp left us today. He was only 59.
Camp relied largely on a sinker, and pitched brilliantly for the Braves in 1980 and '81; he posted sub-2.00 ERA's in both seasons and racked up 39 saves while throwing 184 innings (and there would have been more innings if not for The Strike).
But Camp will forever be remembered in Atlanta (and New York) for his hitting:
That happened on the 4th of July in 1985, Camp's last season. In the top of the 18th inning, Camp was pitching when the Mets took an 11-10 lead over the Braves. In the bottom of the 18th, Camp batted for himself with two outs and hit a solo homer to tie the game.
Alas, Camp gave up five more runs in the 19th and the Braves wound up losing 17-12.
But somehow it's Camp's home run, the only home run he ever hit, that's endured in our memories. And always will, I guess. I'm watching the Mets game on TV at this very moment, and Ron Darling's in the booth. Darling was the finishing pitcher on the 4th of July, and I'm hoping he's able to talk about it.