Boston Red Sox catcher Bill Haselman had another memorable game at Camden Yards yesterday. He turned in one of the best offensive performances of his career, with three doubles and a home run in a wet and wild 13-7 victory over the Orioles, then tried to steer the conversation away from his other memorable day at Oriole Park.
Lest anyone forget, Haselman was the guy who charged the mound here four years ago and started one of the biggest brawls in baseball history.
Cal Ripken twisted his knee in the 20-minute melee with the Seattle Mariners, briefly endangering his chance to break Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record. Mike Mussina wrenched his shoulder and ended up on the disabled list later in the 1993 season.
So, it was not surprising that Haselman was reluctant to reflect on that ugly incident yesterday, though it came quickly to mind when Orioles reliever Armando Benitez threatened to incite new hostilities with a head-high fastball to Jeff Frye after Haselman's eighth-inning homer.
"I'd like to put that behind me," Haselman said. "That was four years ago. He [Mussina] threw at me. I charged him. It's ancient history, but I've been hearing about it for four years -- every time I come in here. I don't even think about it anymore."
Maybe the best revenge is playing well. Haselman doubled in each of his two at-bats against Mussina, then added a double off left-hander Arthur Rhodes and the two-run shot off Benitez to turn the game into a lopsided payback for Saturday's 14-5 Orioles victory.
"They handed it to us and we handed it back to them," Haselman said. "We fell behind one of the best pitchers in the league and we came back and were able to keep going."
The final innings were uneventful, perhaps because home plate umpire Rich Garcia moved decisively to assure that it didn't turn into a riot. He ejected Benitez without warning and motioned in a new Orioles pitcher.
Manager Davey Johnson came out to argue, but not with much vigor. "I thought the umpire handled the situation perfectly," said Red Sox manager Jimy Williams. "To me, that's the way you're supposed to handle it."
Benitez had given up two home runs in the inning. He was frustrated. But Williams pointed out that the Red Sox did nothing to retaliate after Roberto Alomar hit three homers and the Orioles hammered five Boston pitchers for 18 hits the day before.
"If you want to hit somebody, you don't have to throw at the head," Williams said. "Their guys hit about eight home runs yesterday. I don't think there is ever any reason to throw at a guy's head."
Garcia obviously agreed. He didn't endear himself to Orioles fans during the playoffs last year when he made the controversial ruling in Game 1 that rewarded the New York Yankees for apparent fan interference, but he didn't hesitate to rule against the Orioles again in a situation where the safety of the players in both dugouts might be at stake.
"I just felt that after two home runs and the way the guy [Benitez] was going, it was just uncalled for," Garcia explained. "Davey told me I couldn't throw him out without warning him, but that's just not true. If I had warned him, there eventually might have been a problem.
"As an umpire, you're trying to avoid guys getting hurt. You're trying to avoid a beanball war."
Instead, Haselman got to be the right kind of villain this time.
The three doubles were a career high. The four hits raised his average from .266 to .304. The Red Sox salvaged a split of the four-game series.
"That's a special day for him," Williams said. "I used to dream of having a game like that. I never even had a day like that in Little League."
Pub Date: 4/28/97