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Baseball will miss Robin Williams too

8/12/2014

We lost a great, incredibly talented actor and comedian when Robin Williams died at age 63 Monday.

In addition to his skills at making us laugh (and cry), Williams was a tremendous baseball fan. He was particularly passionate about his Giants. I remember him on the field talking to reporters before Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. I’ve long since lost my notes from that night, but here’s a notebook item from MLB.com’s Josh Rawitch.

“When they played in Candlestick, where they used to lose balls in the fog, I went to a couple games,” Williams said. “And a lot of times you’d lose players too. You had nipples the moment you walked into the stadium. It was slightly cold.”

Williams also fired up fans before an NLDS series in 2010 by mocking his “Good Morning, Vietnam” role and shouting, “Good evening, SAN FRANCISCO!!!!” It worked. Tim Lincecum shut out Atlanta and struck out 14. Williams congratulated him after the game.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle remembers another Williams improv at Yankees Stadium before the 2003 World Series.

The baseball connection for which Williams is most famous, however, is the scene in “Good Will Hunting” in which he talks to Matt Damon about the night he met his wife -- Oct. 21, 1975. How does he remember the date? Simple. It was the night of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Williams tells Damon he and his friends slept on the sidewalk the night before to get tickets to the game.

“Day of the game,” he says, “I was sitting in a bar, waiting for the game to start, and in walks this girl. Oh, it was an amazing game, though. Bottom of the eighth, Carbo ties it up at 6-6. It went to 12. Bottom of the 12th, in stepped Carlton Fisk, Old Pudge. He steps up to the plate, you know, and he’s got that weird stance ... And bam! He clocks it! High fly ball down the left-field line! Thirty-five thousand people on their feet, yelling at the ball, but that’s not because of Fisk. He’s waving at the ball like a madman. He’s going, ‘Get over! Get over! Get over!!!’ And then it hits the foul pole! Oh, he goes apes---, and 35,000 fans, you know, they charge the field, you know?”

Excited, Damon asks whether Williams stormed the field too. Williams tells him no -- he didn’t go to the game. Damon is incredulous. He had a ticket to the greatest game in Red Sox history. Why didn’t he go?

Because, Williams says, a woman walked into the bar, and he knew in that instant she was the one for him. “And she was a stunner!” So he slid the ticket across the table and told his friends, “Sorry guys, I gotta see about a girl.”

Damon can’t believe it. He asks Williams whether he is kidding.

“No, I’m not kidding you, Will,” Williams says. “That’s why I’m not talking right now about some girl I saw at a bar 20 years ago and how I always regretted not going over and talking to her. I don’t regret the 18 years I was married to Nancy. I don’t regret the six years I had to give up counseling when she got sick. And I don’t regret the last years when she got really sick. And I sure as hell don’t regret missing the damn game.”

There is a pause as Damon thinks this over, understanding it all. And then, Damon says, “Wow. Woulda been nice to catch that game, though.”

“I didn’t know Pudge was gonna hit a homer.”

Rest in peace, Robin. You will be missed.