SI Vault
Leigh Montville
April 19, 1999
Mo Vaughn's spiritual impact on the Anaheim angels may be more powerful than anything he does when he returns to the lineup
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April 19, 1999

Guardian Angel

Mo Vaughn's spiritual impact on the Anaheim angels may be more powerful than anything he does when he returns to the lineup

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Rod Carew, 1983


Mo Vaughn, 1998


Don Baylor, 1979


Mo Vaughn, 1998


Mo Vaughn, 1998


Reggie Jackson, 1982


Tim Salmon, 1997


Alex Johnson, 1970


Rod Carew, 1980


Bobby Bonds, 1977


WallyJoyner, 1987


Garret Anderson, 1997


Tim Salmon, 1995


Leon Wagner, 1962


Bobby Bonds, 1977


Carney Lansford, 1979


Alex Johnson, 1970


Don Baylor, 1979


Mo Vaughn, 1998


Two tied at


He walks into the Anaheim Angels' locker room on crutches. Second day on the regular-season job, April 7, and Mo Vaughn is on crutches. He is back from the hospital, where an MRI has revealed that his left ankle is sprained, the bone is bruised, the ligaments on the outside of the ankle have been stretched and...hey, what's this?

His teammates are watching a car chase. The action spins across two giant television screens in the middle of the large carpeted room. A guy in a Chrysler LeBaron convertible, top up against the unseasonably cold weather, is leading a string of California Highway Patrol cruisers on a high-speed parade down the Pacific Coast Highway. The chase is being covered by a helicopter from Channel 9, KCAL, the live picture backed by appropriately breathless commentary from an unseen anchor desk. The Angels' players inject their own commentary.

"They're going to shoot his butt if he doesn't stop," one player says.

"He's riding on the rims," another says. "Both tires are gone on the right side. He can't go for too long like this."

"I don't know," a third voice says. "You can go a long way on steel if you have to."

On his crutches, Vaughn clicks and clanks through the dialogue to the far end of the room. His ankle is immobilized by a strap-on plastic cast. He injured himself in the first half of the first inning of Opening Night—Opening Night!—chasing a high, meandering foul ball off the bat of Omar Vizquel of the Cleveland Indians. Vaughn had it, had it, had it, then didn't have it as he tumbled off the top step of the Indians' dugout, missing the next five steps and landing with a thump, twisting the ankle. He remained in the game, batting twice before leaving in pain in the fifth inning. He will be put on the 15-day disabled list. Cautiously he sits down at an empty locker, placing the crutches at his side.

A trainer talks with him for a little while. Vaughn's father, Leroy, comes and goes, picking up Mo's suitcase and garment bag and taking them to the car. A circle of reporters forms.

"Did they watch a lot of car chases before games in Boston?" someone asks.

Vaughn grunts. "O.J.," he says. "I think we saw O.J. somewhere."

The driver of the LeBaron finally surrenders, lying facedown in the middle of a highway after his car has ground to a lopsided halt on a steep upgrade. The CHP officers, guns drawn, cuff him and take him away. The anchor desk goes to commercials. The Angels go out onto Edison Field for batting practice.

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