September 25, 1976: Official scoring controversy ends with 9th-inning hit

This article was written by Sarah Johnson

Dave Goltz (Trading Card Database)A bouncer to the first baseman leading off the game called a hit. This judgment call remains the only hit until two out in the ninth inning when the potential last batter singles to right, replacing the lonely ‘1’ that had sat on the scoreboard for more than two hours. “That’s about as far down the plank as you can walk as the OS,” said Patrick Reusse, a staff writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the official scorer for the game on Saturday, September 25, 1976, at Metropolitan Stadium, who began to get an earful from a multitude of sources as the innings rolled by.1 In addition to this controversial midmorning decision, the late-season contest won 6-0 by the Minnesota Twins over the California Angels also included a future Hall of Famer becoming the first major-league pitcher to strike out more than 300 hitters in four different seasons.

A sparse crowd (officially recorded as 4,942) was in attendance for the first game of this two-game series during the last homestand of the season. The Twins went on to finish the 1976 campaign with a record of 85-77, good enough for third place out of six teams in the American League West and five games behind the division-winning Kansas City Royals. California ended up in fourth place in the same division, 14 games behind the Royals at 76-86. It was a normal fall day in Minnesota with temperatures in the low 60s.2 

The pitching matchup featured Twins right-hander Dave Goltz, the native Minnesotan who finished the season with 14 wins and a 3.36 earned-run average, and California’s Nolan Ryan, the fireballing right-hander who came into the game needing nine strikeouts to reach 300 for the season.

Angels left fielder Dave Collins led off the game with a chopper to Twins first baseman Rod Carew. Dave Goltz, late in covering first base, dropped the underhand throw from Carew, allowing Collins to reach safely. “Collins was a speedy guy,” Reusse remembered. “I thought he was going to beat it out so I called it a hit. It wasn’t immediately a controversy.”3

After the single, Collins was caught stealing and Goltz went on to have four one-two-three innings. The Twins took the lead in the bottom of the third on a solo home run by right fielder Dan Ford. His hit went into the temporary bleachers set up in left field for Minnesota Vikings football games, prompting Ford to say, “Bring back the porch in 1977.”4 The Twins added three more runs in the third and fourth innings, aided by four walks issued by Ryan. Ryan threw 160 pitches and walked eight over seven innings to lose his 18th game of the season. He struck out 11, including a called third strike on Twins second baseman Bob Randall to end the sixth inning for number 300. “It’s nice anytime to get into the record books,” Ryan said. “They pay you for wins. It’s been a frustrating season.”5

The only Angels threat during the game came in the top of the sixth when Goltz walked Collins to lead off the inning and California second baseman Jerry Remy reached on an error, putting runners on first and second with no one out. But Goltz struck out center fielder Bob Jones and first baseman Tony Solaita and got designated hitter Mario Guerrero to ground into a force out to end the inning. Although Goltz struck out eight, he also walked four, including catcher Terry Humphrey in the second inning.

Angels right-hander Gary Wheelock gave up two runs in the eighth inning, including a run-scoring double by Twins left fielder Larry Hisle, and Minnesota won easily, 6-0, in a game that lasted 2 hours, 28 minutes. The California offense struggled during the season, with Reusse writing in his game story about the two additional runs, “The runs were merely insurance. Goltz was coasting through the Angels – a collection which carries a .235 team batting average.”6 In the top of the ninth, the last chance to take the official scorer off the hook, Jones struck out and Solaita flied out before Guerrero hit a single to right, ending an afternoon of drama. 

The game started at 10:30 A.M. to accommodate WCCO, the team’s flagship radio station, which also held the rights to broadcast University of Minnesota football and had a game nearby at Memorial Stadium that afternoon. As the baseball game progressed with the sole Angels hit, the pressure increased in the press box. In a 2013 blog on the Star Tribune’s website, Reusse, now a Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist, wrote: “By mid-game, messages started to arrive from Calvin Griffith family members that the Collins chopper in the first must be changed to an error in the name of justice. There was a call from the dugout to the press box, with the message: ‘Tell Reusse that Carew says that was an error.’”7 Reviewing the play wasn’t an option – “The thing to remember is in those days there were no replays – only some of the games were even on TV – so you really had to pay attention,” Reusse said.8

“The crowd was so small I could hear fans yelling at me,” Reusse told the author in 2019. “The press box wasn’t very crowded – most reporters were off covering the Vikings or Gopher football – and it was a lot more irreverent back then than it is today. I remember when Guerrero got the hit I stood up and yelled, I was the happiest person in the ballpark. When people ask me who my favorite player is and I say Mario Guerrero they usually go, ‘Huh?’ I tell them he got the biggest hit of my career.”9

At the time, local sportswriters also served as official scorers, which could make for some uncomfortable situations: The scorer making a judgment call during the game potentially affecting a player’s statistics could also be dependent on that player for a postgame interview. In his game story, Reusse included quotes from both Goltz and Minnesota manager Gene Mauch about Collins’s hit. “It makes no difference now because they got another hit, but that was an error on me,” said Goltz. “I beat him to the bag but I dropped the throw.” “Dave got a terrible jump off the mound, but he was still a couple of steps ahead of Collins,” said Mauch. “Until there were two outs in the ninth, it was as easy a no-hitter as I’ve ever seen.”10

The Orange County Register did not mention the controversy, covering the first-inning play only by reporting, “The first hit off Goltz was by leadoff hitter Collins in the opening inning. Collins tapped a ball to first baseman Rod Carew, but Goltz was unable to get to first in time to make the play. Mario Guerrero singled in the ninth for the Angels’ other hit.”11

In the Twin Cities, the rival newspaper for the Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Tribune (later the Star Tribune), named Reusse as the official scorer in its game story. “Umpire Dave Phillips called Collins safe and official scorer Pat Reusse ruled a hit. Mario Guerrero of the Angels finally took the scorer off the hook when he lined a single to right field with two out in the ninth inning for the first legitimate hit to remove any no-hit controversy,” wrote the Tribune’s Tom Briere.12

“You didn’t have to do it, they would ask if you wanted to be an official scorer, but I wanted the extra money,” said Reusse. “We were paid by [Major League Baseball] for scoring games. I don’t remember any controversies with guys telling me they wouldn’t talk to me because of one of my calls and I never made a call because I thought a player would be mad at me and maybe not talk to me if I called a play a certain way.”13

The tradition of having writers scoring and covering the game was phased out during the late ’70s. “At the end of last season [1978] all Twin Cities newspapers closed down on official scoring,” wrote Minneapolis Tribune columnist Dick Cullum on July 5, 1979.14

This game is inextricably linked with two others in Twins history. Two years earlier in a late-season matchup against the Rangers, it was also Dave Goltz on the mound when the second batter of the game hit a groundball to Twins third baseman Eric Soderholm. The official scorer that day, Bob Fowler of the Minneapolis Star, called it a hit and took his own place on the hot seat as Goltz held Texas hitless until a two-out, ninth-inning triple by shortstop Pete Mackanin relieved him of the same controversy. More than 20 years later, Twins starter Eric Milton no-hit the Angels (then called the Anaheim Angels) in another September morning start necessitated by the Gopher football schedule.15



In addition to the sources cited below, the author consulted and



1 Patrick Reusse, telephone interview, August 28, 2019 (hereafter Reusse interview). 

2 Weather Report, Minneapolis Star, September 24, 1976: 12A.

3 Reusse interview.

4 Patrick Reusse, “Twins, Goltz Handcuff Angels,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 26, 1976: 1 – Sports Section.

5 “Ryan Likes Strike Outs,” Orange County Register (Anaheim, California), September 27, 1976: C2.

6 Patrick Reusse, “Twins, Goltz Handcuff Angels.”

7 Patrick Reusse, “The Day That Mario Guerrero Saved My Bacon,” Star Tribune,, accessed September 2, 2019.

8 Reusse interview.

9 Reusse interview.

10 Patrick Reusse, “Twins, Goltz Handcuff Angels.”

11 “Goltz Upstages Ryan’s Record,” Orange County Register, September 26, 1976: D4.

12 Tom Briere, “Twins, Goltz Score 6-0 Win Over Angels,” Minneapolis Tribune, September 26, 1976: 10C.

13 Reusse interview.

14 Dick Cullum, Minneapolis Tribune, July 5, 1979: 3D.

15 By the time of the Milton no-hitter (1999) both the Twins and the Gopher football team played at the Metrodome. When games were scheduled on the same day, the Twins played in the morning and the Gophers in the evening, allowing time to change the field from a baseball to a football layout.

Additional Stats

Minnesota Twins 6
California Angels 0

Metropolitan Stadium
Bloomington, MN


Box Score + PBP:

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