Ron Roenicke only hit 17 home runs in an eight-year career, so he was always going to remember his first no matter what. But the message he received from the Hall of Famer he victimized made it truly unforgettable.
The news that 300-game winner Tom Seaver died on Wednesday brought Roenicke back to 1982, his second year with the Dodgers. On June 20 of that season, the Dodgers visited the Reds, and Roenicke got the start vs. Tom Terrific, playing left and batting third.
He stepped up with two outs in the first and snuck one over the right field fence for career homer No. 1.
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda took the ball and brought it to Seaver, who provided the following inscription: "To Ron -- Why me? Tom Seaver."
"Great career," Roenicke said after the Red Sox lost to the Braves on Wednesday. "From what I heard, great person. I didn't know him personally other than just to meet him, but I heard so many good things about him. And I know he's been sick recently for the last few years. Tough when you lose someone like that."
As for the home run itself, Roenicke can't take much credit.
"It was probably a lucky home run, too," he said. "It was about a foot fair and a foot over the fence. He was still pretty tough even in those later years. But I would have loved to have watched him pitch. We didn't have a lot of TV back then. Games now, you can pick and choose what games you want to see. That wasn't the case when I first came up to the big leagues. So I really didn't get to see him when he was really good, and that's unfortunate, because that type of pitcher, those Hall of Fame guys, and the numbers that he put up a couple of those years and the win totals were just amazing."
Seaver, a 12-time All-Star who won 311 games over a 20-year career that ended with the Red Sox in 1986, won a Rookie of the Year, three Cy Young Awards, and a World Series.
But on this day, he took a back seat to Roenicke.