Less than three months later, on Oct. 17, Welch was scheduled to start Game 3 of the '89 World Series, against the Giants in Candlestick Park. At the time, the Welches were getting ready to move into a condominium in San Francisco's Marina District at the edge of the Bay. At 5:04 p.m., only minutes before Welch was to take the mound, the Bay Area was shaken by the now famous earthquake, and much of the Marina went up in smoke. Welch's building was not severely damaged, but it would be months before the family could move into the condo. The Series would not resume for nearly two weeks, and because the A's swept the Giants in four games behind Stewart and Moore, Welch never did get his start. It was the end of a chaotic, emotionally wrenching season.
There are still jagged fissures in the streets and sidewalks near the Welch home. There is a vacant lot where an apartment building once stood, and the hum of construction work is heard throughout the Marina, FOR RENT signs are the signature of the Quake of '89.
But inside the Welch condo it is bright and busy this late Saturday afternoon. Dylan, blond and blue-eyed, is now 13 months, and the Welches' second child is due within days. Guests have just arrived: Mike Maguire, a lawyer from Wilmington, Del., with four of his children. Welch and Maguire exchange high fives.
"Well, man, we're still walkin'," says Welch.
"Not a drink between us," says Maguire, a portly, round-faced man of 49.
They embrace. "I guess you could say we're classmates from The Meadows," Maguire explains. "We were both there in January 1980. I, of course, was there for my sinuses. At least that's what I kept telling the stewardess on the flight out to Arizona after my 19th martini. Bob was already there when I checked in, and the first person I see as I walk through the door is Don Newcombe. Now, I'm a baseball nut from way back, a big Phillies fan. So here I am, standing next to that old Dodger, Big Newk. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. 'What in hell are you doing here?' I ask him. 'I thought you were already dry.' And Newcombe tells me he's there to give Bob a little encouragement. Then I see Bob. Well, he and I became great friends. We'd jog together. And I'd be the simulated batter when Bob would work out twice a week with a minor league catcher sent up from Phoenix. I'd stand there and say, 'God, I promise I'll never drink again if you'll just see to it that none of these fastballs hits me.' "
Welch gives Maguire a friendly poke in the arm and says, "C'mon, we gotta go get some pizza."
"Classmates," says Maguire. "At least I guess that's what we are."
"Nah," says Welch, smiling wickedly at his friend. "We're alcoholics."
Welch is still taking life one day at a time. It's just that the days are getting better and better.