Friday, July 5, 2013

Food-Issue Friday: 1985 Topps/Hostess Braves #5 Rick Camp

1985 Topps/Hostess Braves #5

This card just screams out, "Independence Day!"

And while the Red, White, and Blue color scheme certainly reflect our nation's colors, that's not why it has a special meaning to myself and countless other Braves fans.

The Braves hosted the New York Mets on July 4th, 1985 in a game that started off with a lengthy rain delay. Despite horrible playing conditions, the game proved to be an exciting one, with rain delays, lead changes, and wasted opportunities. And that was only in the first few innings of the game.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, and leading by a score of 7-4, Met's manager Davey Johnson brought in Jesse Orosco, a very tough lefty. Game over, right? Well, Orosco gave up a leadoff single to Ken Oberkfell- who would then move to second on a passed ball. After issuing a walk to Rick Cerone, Orosco was on the verge of getting out of the inning unscathed by getting the next two Braves hitters out. However, two more walks brought in a run- and Jesse was through for the evening. Dale Murphy then welcomed Doug Sisk with a bases-loaded double to put Atlanta up 8-7 going into the ninth.

Future Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter came in to close the game out in the ninth, only to allow three straight one-out singles, which, of course, tied the game at 8- where it would remain until the thirteenth inning.

After the Mets took a 10-8 lead going into the bottom of the thirteenth, Braves outfielder Terry Harper provided a round of heroics with a two-out, two-run blast off of Mets lefty Tom Gorman to tie the game once again. And with a depleted bullpen, Gorman would go on to shut the Braves out for the next four innings.

Camp, today's subject, came in relief in the top of the 17th, allowing a lead-off single to The Kid, Gary Carter, before setting the Mets down in order. In the top of the 18th, however, he gave up a sacrifice fly to Lenny Dykstra- once again giving the Mets the lead.

Gorman, still on in relief, got the first two Braves hitters out in the bottom of the eighteenth. Out of players on the bench, manager Eddie Haas had no other choice but to send Camp, whose batting average at that point was a league-worst .036, to the plate with the game on the line. After Camp fouled off the first pitch (which, by the way, was a great cut), Gorman got ahead in the count 0-2 before hanging a pitch that Camp blasted for a game-tying homer.

Still on the mound for the 19th, Rick saw things fall apart quickly, as the Mets scored 5 runs on 4 hits and 1 error. Remember, Atlanta had no other pitchers available- so Camp was going to be out there, no matter how many runs he gave up.

In the Braves half of the 19th, Claudell Washington reached second on a one-out error by first baseman Keith Hernandez. One out and two walks later, Terry Harper once again came up with a big hit- singling in Washington and Dale Murphy to close the gap to 16-13. With Gerald Perry at third, Camp came to the plate again, only to be struck out by Ron Darling- ending the game on July 5th at approximately 3:55 am.

The 1985 season was the final of Camp's nine years in the majors. The home run he hit that night was the only one of his career. Following his playing days, Rick became a lobbyist and eventually spent two seasons years in federal prison for his part in a scheme to steal more than $2 million from an Augusta, Georgia, mental health facility. He was also a regular at Braves' alumni weekend events following his release from prison, and would have undoubtedly been part of last weekend's events, had he not died an untimely death at the age of 59 on April 25th of this year.

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