DETROIT -- Most people believe what Darrell Evans and his wife saw from their back porch the summer of 1982 was an airplane -- or the result of viewing 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' once too often.
Evans thinks it was a UFO, and he thinks seeing it changed his life.
'Close Encounters was one of my favorite movies,' said the Detroit Tigers' designated hitter-infielder Wednesday. 'I believe there is something out there.'
That's one reason he believes what he saw was a UFO -- a sight that 'definitely helped my career. It gave me something to think about besides myself. It sparked things for me.'
Evans was on San Francisco Manager Frank Robinson's bench at the time of the incident. For the first time in his career he wasn't playing.
He and his wife, LaDonna, settled down for a quiet evening on their porch one summer night in Pleasanton, Calif. Around midnight they were peering into the murk of the valley when they saw an object 30 feet wide, triangular in shape, with no wings -- 'it was more like a flying wing' -- with green and red lights on either side and white lights in back.
'There was no sound,' Evans recalled in the Detroit clubhouse. 'It was 100 yards away, right over my neighbor's house. It was there maybe a minute, a minute and a half.
'My wife said, 'Why don't you take a picture of it, so we'll be able to see it?,'' Evans said. 'But as soon as I got up it sort of tilted.'
By the time he had his camera, the object was out of camera range. Then it was gone.
People have told Evans he saw an airplane. There was a small airport within sight in the valley their back porch overlooked.
'My wife was a stewardess,' Evans responds. 'So she knows what an airplane looks like. My dad (Dick), works for NASA. He's one of the best men in his field. I've always been interested in aircraft and outer space.'
'Soon after that things turned around,' Evans said. 'During that time it was something you think about rather than feel sorry for yourself.'
The 36-year-old finished 1982 with a .256 average, 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 141 games. He perked up to 30 home runs, 82 RBI and a .277 average last season before free agency and signing with the Tigers.
So far with Detroit, Evans is batting .278 with a pair of three-run homers and eight RBI in the Tigers' 6-0 start.