A pitcher, Camp, spent his entire nine-year big-league career with the Braves. He was in the starting rotation on manager Joe Torre’s 1982 team that won its division. Three years later, however, Camp was a bullpen arm, Torre had been fired, and the franchise was entering a period of malaise that would last through the end of the decade. On the Fourth of July, Atlanta’s record was 34–41 and only San Francisco was behind it in the NL West standings.
Not yet a junior in high school, I experienced the summer of 1985 as another prolonged break from classes and the last one that did not involve holding a job. I recall watching the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display from my parents’ apartment building in Brooklyn Heights and then hanging out with friends in the neighborhood. On returning home after midnight, I turned on the TV and was surprised to find that the Mets–Braves game was still ongoing and about to go into extra innings. (The game had started an hour late due to rain.)
Here’s pretty much what my mind remembers from the game that might end up becoming the most memorable regular-season game I will watch in my lifetime:
* According to Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times, “When asked about it after the game, [home-plate umpire Terry] Tata responded with the words later engraved at the Tomb of the Unknown Umpire: ‘At three o’clock in the morning, there are no bad calls.’”
** Camp’s home-run shot on the Atlanta telecast was called by none other than current Yankees radio play-by-play man John Sterling, who called Braves games for Turner Sports from 1982 to 1987. (Thankfully, he had not yet come up with the “It is high, it is far” shtick.)
Camp finished the season with the Braves but was released before the 1986 season. He became a Georgia lobbyist and, years later, served two years in a federal prison after being convicted on an embezzlement charge.
Nonetheless, he remained popular in and around Atlanta and was always given a warm welcome when he showed up to Braves old-timers’ games.
Rest in peace. And thanks so much for the memories.