Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Inside the Park Home Runs

Casey Blake's inside the park home run last night provided Indians fans with a brief respite from this season's misery. When Blake hit his home run, Matt Underwood was on the ball enough to remind listeners that Coco Crisp did the same thing against the Tigers last year. That led me to wonder just how rare inside the park round trippers were, so off to the Internet I went.

One of the most fun things about baseball is that once you start looking into the record book, you're almost guaranteed to get more than you bargained for. That's certainly the case with inside the park home runs. For example:

  • On August 27, 1977 Toby Harrah and Bump Willis of the Texas Rangers hit back-to-back inside the park home runs on consecutive pitches. Incredibly, this was the second time this happened, the last being June 23, 1946, when Marv Rickert and Eddie Waitkus did it for the Chicago Cubs.
  • At least one player, Tom McCreery of the Louisville Colonels, has hit three inside the park home runs in a single game (some sources also credit Guy Hecker with this feat). More than 40 players have hit two inside the park home runs in the same game, but that feat has been accomplished only twice in the last 50 years. Dick Allen did it for the White Sox in 1972, and Greg Gagne hit two for the Twins in 1986.
  • One of the 40 players to hit two in a single game is Cleveland native Ed Delahanty, who did it for the Phillies on July 13, 1896. Delahanty matched his two inside the park hits that day with two more that went over the fence. For a long time, Delahanty was credited with four inside the park home runs that day, but recent research has apparently established that only two of his home runs actually stayed in the yard. Still, he is the only member of the four home runs in a game club with any inside the park home runs included in his total.
  • Rey Sanchez hit a walk-off (or maybe run-off is a better word) inside the park home run for the Devil Rays on June 11, 2004. Sanchez joined 15 other players, including Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey and Roberto Clemente, who have accomplished that feat over the last half century.
  • Rogers Hornsby is the only man with at least 300 home runs who also has more than 30 inside the park home runs. (You can find this and more interesting home run trivia here.) Sam Crawford holds the single season and career records with 12 and 51, respectively
This stuff is like crack. Every time you look up a record, it leads to something else equally interesting. For example, I mentioned Ed Delahanty. Well, you can't mention Ed Delahanty without mentioning that his death in 1903 remains one of baseball's great mysteries. I also wrote about Guy Hecker. You probably know he was the only pitcher ever to win a Major League batting title, way back in 1886. Or maybe he didn't. It turns out that the story is a little more complicated than that.

Okay, that's it, I'm done. I've got to get ready for work.

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