Local boy Snow stars in Game 1

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The other famous son got the biggest hit in the World Series opener.

J.T. Snow, born up the road in Long Beach, helped the San Francisco Giants do in his former team in the first World Series game for him and the Angels.

First, he made a highlight-film catch of a popup on old teammate Tim Salmon in the fifth inning Saturday night after slipping near the Giants dugout.

Then he really put the Angels on the rocks -- hitting a two-run homer onto the faux boulders behind the left-field fence in the sixth. The drive gave San Francisco a three-run lead, and the Giants held on to beat Anaheim 4-3 in the World Series opener.

This was one local-boy-makes-good story the Angels wanted no part of.

''We didn't have any Rally Monkey or rally animal when I was here,'' Snow said. ''This is pretty much a new place, new stadium, new uniforms. I think there's four, five guys and one coach who are still here. Still, it felt pretty good -- it always feels good to do well against your former team.''

His father, Jack Snow, was an All-American wide receiver for Notre Dame and an NFL star for the Los Angeles Rams from 1965-75, catching 45 touchdowns passes in 150 games. On Thursday night, he gave his son some advice.

''He said, 'Enjoy it,''' J.T. Snow recalled Friday. ''He said what he always tells me: 'Go out and play hard.' He would say that to me before a spring training game. He would say that to me before the World Series.''

After the Giants' evening workout at Edison Field, he sat by his corner locker near the entrance to the visitors' clubhouse -- a strange setting for him -- and talked about his dad, who never got to a Super Bowl.

''They always lost to the Cowboys or the Vikings,'' he said, referring to the NFC championship games in 1975 and 1974.

When he talks to his father, they speak of how easy it is to play and how hard it is to watch, how athletes are most comfortable when they're playing.

''You have control, and you're probably the most relaxed of anybody,'' he said.

During one tense postseason game, his father was so nervous he had to walk away from the television.

''If you talk to Barry Bonds' dad, if you talk to David Bell's dad, it's hard to watch your own son play,'' J.T. Snow said.

J.T. Snow, an Orange County product who played with Giants closer Robb Nen at Los Alamitos High School, grew up as a baseball player with the Angels, who acquired him from the Yankees in the trade for Jim Abbott in December 1992.

He spent four seasons with the Angels, who traded him to the Giants for pitchers Allen Watson and Fausto Macey after the 1996 season.

These days he lives up north in San Mateo. His job is to end the Angels' dream and help the Giants win their first title since 1954.

And he hit the big homer in the place where he used to drive the ushers crazy. First, his dad took him to the ballpark. When the Angels made the playoffs in 1979, ''We really got into it.''

As soon as he got a driver's license, he started getting there on his own.

''We'd buy the cheap seats and sneak down by the seventh inning to the dugout,'' Snow said. ''Security guards used to chase us around.''

Now he was making important catches and getting decisive hits on the very same field. He said he had never made a catch like the one that got Salmon out, where he slipped on the warning track and popped up like bread out of a toaster. Giants manager Dusty Baker remember Roberto Clemente making a similar catch, then recalled doing something similar in his career.

''Luckily, I fell on my backside,'' Snow said, ''so I was able to keep my head up and keep concentrating on the ball. grabbed the netting right there, pulled myself up and made the catch.''

When he hit against Jarrod Washburn with two outs in the sixth inning, the Giants were clinging to a 2-1 lead. Washburn fell behind 3-0, threw a strike, and then Snow pounced.

''J.T.'s got some pop in his bat,'' Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia. ''He can definitely hurt you.''

While Snow probably could have filled a few rows with family and friends, he had only four tickets to the game. Only the closest relatives got to go.

''The last thing I want to do,'' he said, ''is play ticket broker in the World Series.''

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