For Angels reserve outfielder Merv Rettenmund, his return from the emergency 75-day disabled list has been a disorienting one.
“I went to rent a VHS movie for the kids, and I couldn’t find a video store,” said Rettenmund from his home in Poway, California, shortly before catching a flight to Anaheim for that evening’s contest between Oakland and California. “Hell, I couldn’t even find my kids.”
After becoming the first SP78 player this season to be placed on the 75-day DL, due to injuries he sustained when he collided with fellow outfielder Lyman Bostock during a May 18th game against the White Sox at Comiskey Park, Rettenmund spent 24 years out of action, watching helplessly as the outside world continued on without him. “I missed two whole months of the season…both June and July, just plain gone. And the loss of two decades…I can’t even begin to grasp that concept.”
Interestingly enough, it was Rettenmund who replaced an injured Ken Landreaux in center field in the third inning of that May 18th game, after Landreaux was hurt diving for a sinking line drive off the bat of Jorge Orta. One inning later, both Rettenmund and Bostock were out as well, forcing California manager Dave Garcia to move first baseman Ron Jackson to left, and slugging designated hitter Don Baylor to center.
During Rettenmund’s absence, the Angels climbed from sixth place to fifth in the AL West, but in the process dropped from 12½ to 16½ game back of the division-leading Rangers…or the division-leading Twins, depending on which year it was. With the addition of Rettenmund to the 25-man roster, the Halos shipped designated hitter Danny Goodwin back to the Salt Lake City Gulls of the Pacific Coast League; while with the parent club, Goodwin hit .333 with seven doubles, one home run, and seven RBI before he suffered a sprained ankle in late July, prompting a stint on injury rehab.
After arriving at Anaheim Stadium and taking batting practice for the first time in a quarter century, Rettenmund was asked what the most disconcerting aspect of his return was. “Without question, my player card. It’s bright white and unscathed by time…a mint condition card, I guess, compared to those of my teammates. The new guy, Machemer, calls me Mr. Clean.” Moments later Rettenmund stepped into the cage to take his cuts, and for the most immaculate card on the diamond, it was like 1990 all over again.