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Four homers in one game
AUGUST 10, 1999


It is, not so arguably, baseball's greatest single-game accomplishment. The one that seems to defy all odds. The one that leaves fans in absolute wonderment. Since they started playing major league ball, the feat has been achieved about once every 10 years. It is a classic moment, or series of moments -- the time when a hitter is in a once-in-a-lifetime (if that often) groove. When the ball almost inexplicably explodes off the bat and sets sail for distance places -- not once, not twice, not thrice. Four times!

To underscore the magnitude of the feat, consider that Babe Ruth never accomplished it. Or Hank Aaron, for that matter. Or Mickey Mantle. On the other hand, Pat Seerey and Mark Whiten have done it. The vagabond Whiten, in fact, was the last big-league player to hit four home runs in one game, doing so in a Cardinals uniform on September 3, 1993 in Cincinnati.

That Seerey and Whiten could do what most of the game's greats couldn't got The Sporting News to wondering what else could be unearthed from the minutes of the exclusive four-homer club (only 12 members),whose meeting we hereby call to order:

The roll call, please: Bobby Lowe (inducted in 1894), Ed Delahanty (1896), Lou Gehrig (1932), Chuck Klein (1936), Seerey (1948), Gil Hodges (1950), Joe Adcock (1954), Rocky Colavito (1959), Willie Mays (1961), Mike Schmidt (1976), Bob Horner (1986) and Whiten (1993).

Show him the money: Lowe gathered up $160 in coins thrown on the field at Boston (National League) after his big game.

If you hit four homers and (virtually) no one saw the game, did you really do it? Only 1,100 fans were on hand when Philadelphia's Delahanty slugged his four in an N.L. game in Chicago.

Oops, that one slipped: The day after Milwaukee's Adcock drilled four homers against Brooklyn, he was beaned by Dodgers pitcher Clem Labine. "I certainly didn't intend to hit Joe in the head," Labine said. "That goes without saying, doesn't it?" Maybe, Clem. Maybe not.

Club members who also belong to that other noted organization, the Hall of Fame: Delahanty, Gehrig, Klein, Mays and Schmidt.

Hall of Fame pitchers victimized in four-homer games: Only one, Warren Spahn. He gave up the first by the Dodgers' Hodges.

Follow my lead, boys: Lowe is the only leadoff hitter to hit four homers in one game.

They should have saved a few: Of the 12 four-homer men, Lowe has the lowest career home run total -- 71. Of those who played when the ball was lively, Seerey brings up the rear at 86.

Hey, don't forget the other 656: The Giants' Mays has the highest career total, 660, which ranks third on the majors' all-time list. Until his big day, though, Mays had never hit more than two homers in one game.

I can't do it all, guys: Two players have won admittance to the select long-ball group in losing causes. Delahanty's efforts couldn't prevent a 9-8 defeat, and Horner's outburst was wasted in Atlanta's 11-8 loss to Montreal.

The friendliest confines: Philadelphia's Shibe Park and Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. They were sites of two four-homer games, with the Yankees' Gehrig and the White Sox's Seerey connecting in Philly and Hodges and Adcock going yard, yard, yard, yard in Flatbush.

Switcheroo: The only switch hitter in the four-homer club is Whiten. And a lefthanded hitter hasn't hit four in one game since the Phillies' Klein did it 61 years ago. (The only other lefthanded batsman in the group: Gehrig.)

Fate lends a helping hand (another at-bat): Klein, Seerey and Schmidt belted their fourth homers in extra-inning games.

The answer is: shortstop, catcher and pitcher. The question is ... : What positions are not represented in the four-homer club? (Delahanty, Gehrig, Hodges, Adcock and Horner played first base; Lowe second; Schmidt third; Seerey left field; Mays and Whiten center; and Klein and the Indians' Colavito right.)

A hit road show: Only three players have hit four homers in their home parks--Boston's Lowe, Brooklyn's Hodges and Atlanta's Horner.

Most RBIs in a four-homer game: 12, by Whiten, which tied the major league record.

Fab franchises: Only the Braves and the Phillies have multiple representation in the club. Lowe (Boston), Adcock (Milwaukee) and Horner (Atlanta) have produced four-homer games for the well-traveled Braves franchise; Delahanty, Klein and Schmidt have done it for the Phils.

Welcome to the bigs, son: Whiten hit two of his homers off the Reds' Mike Anderson, who was making his big-league debut, and another off Larry Luebbers. Anderson pitched in only two other big-league games, and Luebbers just 13 others. The fourth home run was off Rob Dibble in the ninth.

Thanks for believing in me: Klein hit his four for the Phillies seven weeks after the Philadelphia club acquired him from the Cubs in hopes he could make a contribution.

Slam-bang: Only one of the 48 homers struck by the four-homer brigade has come with the bases loaded--Whiten's first, off Luebbers.

The wind was blowing out -- way out: The most runs scored in a four-homer game is 34. With the Cubs flubbing away a 12-1 lead they had built after three innings, Schmidt and the Phillies edged Chicago, 18-16, in 10 innings at Wrigley Field.

Totally awesome: In addition to his homers, Adcock hit a double against the Dodgers and established a still-standing major league record of 18 total bases in one game.

Some weekend in Brewtown: Mays' four homers came in the Sunday finale of a three-game series at Milwaukee. Friday night, the Braves' Spahn had tossed a no-hitter against San Francisco.

Nightcap nirvana: Lowe and Whiten wreaked their havoc in the second game of doubleheaders.

Biding his time: The first of Schmidt's four homers came in the fifth inning.

A sense of history: Pitcher Billy Loes, a complete-game winner for the Giants on Mays' big day, also was in uniform for the four-homer games by Hodges (as a Dodger), Adcock (Brooklyn, again) and Colavito (as an Oriole).

Time that passed from the majors' first four-homer game (Lowe's) to the most recent (Whiten's): 99 years, three months and eight days.

Lobbying for induction into the four-homer club but lacks the votes to get in: Rafael Belliard.

Copyright © 1999 The Sporting News All rights reserved.

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