Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Rick Camp passed away today of natural causes. He was 60.
A native of Georgia, Camp pitched his entire 9-year big league career with the Braves. Camp pitched mostly out of the bullpen. His best seasons came in 1980 and 1981 when he saved 22 and 17 games, respectively.
Yet Camp will be best remembered for what he did with his bat. O.K., Camp had a lifetime batting average of .074. But on the Fourth of July in 1985, Camp had an at bat of a lifetime in a extra inning game against the New York Mets at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. Losing 11-10 in the bottom of the 18th, the Braves had run out of position players and had no choice but to let the weak hitting Camp take a swing. Braves announcer John Sterling said to his broadcast colleague Ernie Johnson, Sr., “If he hits a home run to tie this game, this game will be certified as absolutely the nuttiest in the history of baseball.”
Camp then proceeded to give up five runs against the Mets in the top of the 19th. The Braves scored two runs in the bottom of the 19th when Camp came up to the plate. But lightning did not strike twice. Camp struck out to end the game. The Mets won 16-13 and Camp took the loss.
A fireworks ceremony that had been planned after the game proceeded as scheduled – at 4 a.m.
Camp retired at the end of the season. He finished his big league career with a record of 56-49 with a 3.37 ERA and 57 saves.
After his career, Camp became a lobbyist in Augusta. In 2005, Camp was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his involvement in a Medicaid scheme to defraud a mental health facility of $2 million.
Despite this transgression, Camp was beloved in his hometown of Trion, Georgia.
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