Thursday, July 11, 2013

4 Homers in One Game

Over the course of baseball history, 16 different players have hit four home runs in one game. To date, the feat has been accomplished six times in the American League and ten times in the National League. The most recent occurrence came on May 8, 2012, when Rangers' center fielder Josh Hamilton went deep on four occasions against 3 different Orioles' hurlers. An MVP in 2010, Hamilton seems an obvious choice. Likewise, it is not surprising to find Hall of Fame sluggers Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt on the list. But a handful of players who turned the trick were virtually unknown. For instance:

Pat Seerey spent just seven years in the majors with the White Sox and Indians during the 1940's. He reached the 20 homer threshold just once--in '46 when he clouted 26 long balls and struck out over 100 times. His big day came on July 18, 1948 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia--a relatively spacious stadium. Each of his 4 hits were circuit blasts as he drove-in 7 runs and guided the ChiSox to a 12-11 win. At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, Seerey was sometimes referred to as "Fat Pat." He led the AL in strikeouts four times and compiled a lifetime .224 batting average. He was out of the majors by 1950.

Bobby Lowe was a highly competent infielder for 18 seasons, all of which were played in the Deadball Era (when home runs were somewhat scarce). Aside from a brief power surge in 1893/ '94, Lowe never hit more than 17 homers in a single season and finished with 71, 6 of which were of the inside-the-park variety. Lowe's crowning offensive achievement came on May 30, 1894 at the South End Grounds in Boston against the Reds. He was 5-for-6 with 6 RBI's overall against Elton "Ice Box" Chamberlain that day, guiding the Beaneaters to a rollicking 20-11 win. Lowe compiled his highest single-season homer total with 17 long balls that season, placing him second in the league to teammate Hugh Duffy. Both players were aided by the ridiculously short foul lines at the South End Grounds, which were 250 feet in left and 255 feet in right. 

Mark Whiten had some power. In fact, he carried the nickname "Hard Hittin'" Mark Whiten. But he wasn't exactly a model of consistency. A lifetime .259 hitter, he was often used as a replacement--spending ample portions of time on the bench. In 11 seasons, he got into 100 games or more just 4 times. While playing for the Cardinals in '93, Whiten was in a groove, reaching career highs in homers (25) and RBI's (99). Still, no one expected him to crush 4 homers against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium on September 7th. During his 4-for-5 performance, he picked up 12 RBI's, tying him with Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley for most ribbies in a game. Commenting on Whiten's performance, teammate Todd Zeile said: "You can't even do what he did in batting practice." Whiten had one more decent season in '96, belting 22 homers with 71 RBI's. While playing for the Yankees the following year, he encountered some personal problems (a woman accused him of sexual assault). He was released in August and his career fizzled after that. 

Other players to hit 4 homers in a game include Rocky Colavito, Carlos Delgado, Chuck Klein, Gil Hodges and Bob Horner--all very capable sluggers.


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