It was not an atypical April 30 night in Southern California, when Vernon Timmermann and his wife Jeanne, packed their four sons, ranging in ages from 12 to 5, into the family car (which I believe was an Oldsmobile at the time), brought along some coats, and started out on the long drive from their home in the San Fernando Valley down to Anaheim. There was a baseball game to go see and it would be cool at night and Mom didn't want the kids to be cold. It was going to be Alex Johnson Bat Night at Anaheim Stadium as the California Angels would face the Detroit Tigers. Joe Coleman would start for Billy Martin's Tigers while Rudy May would get the call for Lefty Phillips's Angels.
And before everyone had settled into their seats. the first four Tigers had reached and scored, the last three on a Willie Horton home run and the Tigers were on their way to a 7-4 win. Despite the cacophony created by over 42,000 bat-pounding fans in Anaheim (the ability of fans to beat other fans up with a bat was apparently not a concern yet), Coleman wasn't fazed and he kept the Angels off the board until the eighth when California scored four times, but reliever Bill Zepp worked out of trouble and picked up his second save of the year (which turned out to be the last one of his career.) Syd O'Brien had a 2-run double.
This was the first major league game I attended (I would go to Dodger Stadium later in the year) and I believe that my family was given free tickets to the game by Detroit relief pitcher Tom Timmermann who grew up in the same hometown as my dad, Breese, Illinois. After the game, Tom Timmermann met the family and we went out for dessert at an Anaheim restaurant. I'm still waiting for a player to take me out to eat after a game I attend. The lasting memory I have of this meeting was that Tom Timmermann was the largest human being I had seen at that time. He was listed at 6'4", 215 lbs in his playing days, which actually makes him a little smaller than I am now. And he had a really loud voice, which must be a Breese, Illinois thing as my father had a voice that could be heard three counties away, even after he moved out to Los Angeles. And we have very large counties in California. The Tigers pitcher also gave us an autographed ball with a nice message on it wishing us well.
My clearest memory of that dessert was ordering a sundae but then finding out that there were nuts in the topping. At the time, I hated nuts in my food and wouldn't touch anything. And I remember Tom Timmermann kidding me "You don't like nuts? Everybody likes nuts!" I think ate the nuts because I was too afraid that the large man in glasses was going to get angry. He wasn't.
Some reference sources spelled Tom Timmermann's surname with just one n. And I think a few Topps cards used the "Timmerman" spelling. But if you look at his entire career, you can see that with the amount of time he spent in the minors, he wasn't going to complain too much about his name being misspelled.
The 1971 Angels were supposed to be a contender. They had finished a surprising 86-76 in 1970. Alex Johnson led the AL in batting average. Tony Conigliaro had been acquired from Boston to add power. And everything went wrong, much of it starting with the troubled Alex Johnson. Mark Armour has an excellent biography of Johnson at the SABR Bioproject. The Angels finished 1971 at 76-86 and would wander in the wilderness for seven more seasons before finally winning a divisional title in 1979. As a five-year old, I had little idea just what the internal problems were that were facing the Angels in 1971 and I think I'm glad I didn't know at the time. That was one screwed up team.
The Tigers had won the World Series in 1968, but had a losing record in 1970 and replaced manager Mayo Smith with the mercurial Martin, who had led the Twins to an NL West title in 1969. Martin and the Tigers improved greatly in 1971, finishing 91-71, but they were still 12 games behind the eventual AL champs, Baltimore. Martin would lead the Tigers to a divisional title in the strike-shortened 1972 season by 1/2 game over Boston. And then was fired in the middle of the 1973 season. He'd find work again.
Sources: SABR Bioproject, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference, Los Angeles Times