I recently researched some of the most memorable moments in Capital Region sports history.

Some, I was familiar with after my *checks watch* nearly eight months in the region. The Empire winning titles, the River Rats being elite in the '90s, and the Giants training at UAlbany were a few that were fresh in my head.

Jim Fassel and the Giants trained at UAlbany for years / Getty Images
Jim Fassel and the Giants trained at UAlbany for years / Getty Images
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Something I wasn't quite as familiar with, was the story of Ron Guidry, and his accidental barnstorming of Heritage Park in the 1980's. So, I did a bit of digging, and found a piece by Chuck Miller on how, and why, he ended up in Albany.

I was blown away by the story, and the ingenuity that was put to work in order to get him here. Let's take a trip back in time, and remember New York Yankees' hurler Ron Guidry's memorable night in the Capital Region.


Ron Guidry Was One of New York's Finest Pitchers

For a time, no one in baseball was throwing the ball better than the left-hander from Louisiana, Ron Guidry. As a 27-year old in 1978, "Gator" pitched to a 1.74 ERA in 35 starts, won the Cy Young Award, and was second in MVP voting.

Ron Guidry was an ace for the Yankees in the 1980's / Getty Images
Ron Guidry was an ace for the Yankees in the 1980's / Getty Images
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From then on, Guidry found a mark of consistency, living in the "three's" in ERA, and continuing to be a reliable arm in the rotation for the New York Yankees. He pitched in 368 games in his career, all with New York, and won 170 games between 1975 and 1988.

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It was later in his career, 1986 to be exact, when Guidry took the Capital Region baseball scene by storm.


Guidry's Injury Becomes Albany's Gain

As the story goes, Guidry was pitching in July of 1986, when he took a line drive directly off of his pitching hand. Guidry was removed from the game, his hand bleeding in the process, and was forced to miss a few weeks' time.

Ron Guidry awaits first pitch / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
Ron Guidry awaits first pitch / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
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Enter Albany-Colonie Yankees president Ben Bernard, who proposed to the major league affiliate that they let Guidry come up to Heritage Park for his rehab assignment. As Miller's article explains, players would typically go to Triple-A for their assignments.

Guidry warms up ahead of his return to the mound / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
Guidry warms up ahead of his return to the mound / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
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This time, however, the New York club made an exception, and Guidry was on his way to Albany to make his minor league start.


Thousands Flooded Heritage Park to See Guidry

Ron Guidry awaits first pitch / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
Ron Guidry awaits first pitch during the anthem / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
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Simply put, Bernard's plan worked to perfection. Heritage Park was sold out within 24 hours, and traffic lined the streets of Albany for hours ahead of first pitch. Guidry took the mound to a standing ovation, and threw 41 total pitches over three innings.

Guidry readies to work as a member of the A-C Yankees / Facebook / Albany-Colonie Yankees
Guidry readies to work as a member of the A-C Yankees / Facebook / Albany-Colonie Yankees
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While Guidry would soon return to the major league ranks, and finish out the remaining two-plus years of his career, the impact he had on baseball in the Albany-Colonie area was felt for much, much longer.

Ron Guidry's one night in Albany impacted Capital Region baseball greatly / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
Ron Guidry's one night in Albany impacted Capital Region baseball greatly / Facebook - Albany-Colonie Yankees
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