'The Streak': 25 years later, the Trappers' record-setting performance still stands tall

By Glenn Seninger

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 21 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

"The one thing that distinguished the ballclub was the toughness of the players. Before the season started, there was no way you could know until you got into the season. But I later realized that I had a collection of really tough kids."

The Trappers then went to Medicine Hat, Alberta, and after an 18-hour bus ride, they swept four games from the Blue Jays, pushing the streak to 11.

Matt Huff, who played first base for the Trappers, recalls, "I'll never forget that final game of that road trip against Medicine Hat. Earlier in the game, we pulled the old hidden ball trick and I tagged out one of the league leader in steals. I couldn't believe it worked.

"But we were still losing the game in the top of the ninth inning. That's when Jon Beuder stole home and Anthony Blackmon scored on a wild pitch and we won the game 7-6. I've never seen that happen in a professional game."

With the confidence of the team building, the Trappers returned home for a seven-game homestand. Wins No. 12, 13, 14 and 15 came once again against Great Falls, and Medicine Hat obliged, too, giving Salt Lake three more wins to make it 18 straight.

Back on the road, the Trappers headed to Idaho Falls with a 21-3 record and promptly beat the Braves for wins 19 and 20, surpassing the Pioneer League record for most consecutive wins of 19, set by Lethbridge in 1980.

The Trappers continued to roll, moving on to play Pocatello and again paying little attention to the notoriety of the local press, beating the Giants for their 21st and 22nd wins of the streak.

"When you manage a team, you hope for that one guy on the bench who you can call on to be your go-to guy. On that '87 team, we had five or six guys who could step up and be that go-to guy." Gilligan said.

Feeling tired and possibly a bit overconfident, the Trappers found themselves going for win No. 23 against — guess who? — the Giants. The Trappers prevailed, but not without some late-inning drama. In the top of the seventh inning, trailing the Giants 9-3, the public-address announcer said, "The streak is over!" thus violating one of baseball's superstitious rules.

Gilligan recalls, "I will never forget that game. It sounds like a fairy-tale story to think about it, but we were in the top of the seventh inning and the dark clouds started to come in from the distance. Everyone was sure it was going to rain, and the game would be called. The Giants had a six-run lead when the P.A. guy said 'The streak is over!' I was standing on the third-base side and looked at the third baseman, and he just shook his head and said, 'Why did he say that?' "

Moments later, Giants manager Rafael Landestoy started yelling in the direction of the press box at the announcer.

"We went on to score eight runs, hit three home runs, the sky cleared that inning and a giant rainbow was seen in the outfield," Gilligan said. "It was a moment I will never forget."

The Trappers' Jim Ferguson belted a solo homer, Ed Citronnelli blasted a three-run shot, and the pitching staff closed the door. Disaster was averted.

"The Streak" was still alive.

"After that game, we were on the bus on our way back to Salt Lake City and there was talk if we broke the record of 27 in a row we might end up with our names in the Hall of Fame," Colston said "We started to realize that we actually had a shot at making history."

By this time, the phones at the Trappers' front office were buzzing with inquiries from local media as to when the Trappers would conceivably break the record. The professional baseball record was held by the 1902 Corsicana Oilers (of the Texas League) and the 1921 Baltimore Orioles (of the International League), who had both recorded 27 straight victories.

Fans and ticket brokers were starting to snatch up tickets for the potential tying and subsequent breaking of the record.

"I remember a set of four box seats going for $150. We also had some guy in front of the stadium selling counterfeit Salt Lake Trappers 'Streak' T-shirts," said Baggott.

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