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Kuntz shares memories of playing in Angel Stadium


ANAHEIM -- For Royals coach Rusty Kuntz, the return to Angel Stadium prompted a memory of one of his earliest games as a big league outfielder.

It was 1979 and he was playing for Tony La Russa's White Sox against the Angels.

"My parents drove four hours, from Paso Robles up to here, to watch their son play," Kuntz said.

He was pitted against the Angels' left-hander Frank Tanana and, as Kuntz remembers it, he struck out three times and then was pulled for a pinch-hitter.

"I didn't even touch the ball. Not even a foul ball. In fact, in all three of my punchouts, I swing at pitches that were probably over my chin," Kuntz said. "He could ride it up there in the mid-90s -- he could throw some gas. I was, 'This is the big leagues? I've never seen this kind of stuff.'"

His defensive experience was slightly flawed as well.

"I played right field and the first ball hit to me by Bobby Grich, snaked all the way out there and went off my glove for an E-9," Kuntz said.

His parents, however, got to see him play in the Majors.

"So they went home happy and proud," Kuntz said. "Three punchouts, only got to play eight innings, and an error. So welcome to the big leagues."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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