I just heard about Bob Welch’s death. Perhaps his finest moment of the 1989 season came on July 28. Welch had just seen his first child, Dylan, born on the same day that his mother died. After getting word of the death, Welch headed to the airport for the funeral in Kentucky. But he got stuck in traffic, turned around, made his start, and helped the A’s to an 8-7 win in 11 innings. Welch gave up three runs in seven innings before leaving to catch another flight back to Kentucky.
In the new closing chapter to the 1991 edition of Five O’Clock Comes Early, Welch says that in July, he was aware that his mom was fading away from pancreatitis in Paducah, Kentucky, and it was just a question of time, whether the baby would come while his mom was still alive. The baby was born on July 27, an off day, and the next morning Welch found out that his mom had died, but before she did, knew that Dylan had been born. Welch writes:
“I was scheduled to pitch that evening, so I called Tony La Russa, our manager, and said I wanted to go home. Of course he agreed, but when I got to the airport, I was late for the flight and the woman at the counter would not hold the door open for me even though I told her I was heading for my mom’s funeral. I took it as a sign, and I went out to the ball park. Tony said, ‘Hey, if you want to pitch, you can have the ball,’ and I pitched eight innings and we won it in extra innings. Some people made a big deal of me pitching, but it was easier than sitting around. I caught a midnight flight heading east.”
You might remember that Welch was going to start game 3 of the World Series, but then the Loma Prieta quake happened, and Welch probably spent most of his time during the next 10 days taking care of Dylan and going through the Marina condominium he’d recently bought with his wife, which was damaged in the quake.