Josh Hamilton joined one of the most prestigious groups in major league history on May 8 when he smashed four home runs off three different Baltimore Orioles pitchers in a 10-3 Texas victory. In doing so, Hamilton became the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game and the first since Carlos Delgado turned the trick for the Toronto Blue Jays in a 10-8 victory over Tampa Bay on September 23, 2003.
Hamilton is in the final year of his contract and performances like Tuesday’s will only work in his favor as far as increasing his contract value. As of Thursday’s night action, he leads the American League in all three Triple Crown categories with a .395 average, 15 home runs and 38 runs batted in. He battered Orioles pitching in the series, launching six home runs in the four game set. Here’s a look at Hamilton’s special night and some of the other players that he shares this rare feat with.
Hamilton finished the game against Baltimore Tuesday five for five. He hit a double in addition to his four home runs and finished with eight runs batted in. His 18 total bases for the night set a new American League record and fell one short of tying the major league record set by Shawn Green of the Milwaukee Brewers, who had 19 total bases on May 23, 2002. Green was six for six in that game with four home runs, a double and a single.
Hamilton homered in the first and third innings off starter and losing pitcher Jake Arrieta, followed those with a shot off Zach Phillips in the seventh inning and capped it with an eighth inning home run off Darren O’Day. His double came in the fifth inning, also off Arrieta. Hamilton had clubbed a home run in his final at bat of Monday’s game, giving him five home runs in the span of six at bats.
There are fewer four home run performances in baseball history than perfect games. This season marks the first time that a perfect game and a four home run game have taken place in the same year.
Of the 15 players to hit four home runs in a game prior to Hamilton’s explosion, five of the group are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. That group includes Ed Delahanty, “The Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig, Phillies slugger Chuck Klein, the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt. Mays is the only player from the group to break the 600 home run plateau for his career, while Schmidt bashed 548 long balls during his time in the majors.
Hamilton is the sixth American League player to accomplish the feat. He joined Delgado, Mike Cameron, Rocky Colavito, Pat Seerey and Gehrig. Gehrig pulled it off in 1932, Seerey 1948 and Colavito did it in 1959. It was 43 years before Cameron became the fourth American League player to hit four home runs in a game in 2002.
Lesser Lights With Four HR in a Game
Mark Whiten played 11 years in the majors with eight different teams, compiling a .259 career average with 105 home runs. Nearly a quarter of those blasts came in 1993 when he was with St. Louis. Whiten hit 25 long balls and drove in 99 runs for the Cardinals, including a four home run barrage on September 7 against the Cincinnati Reds. Whiten drove in a dozen runs that day in a 15-2 win over the Reds, with a grand slam, two three run home runs and a two run shot to his credit.
Bob Horner spent a decade in the big leagues, primarily with the Atlanta Braves. Injuries derailed his career and he was finished in the majors at age 30 after playing 60 games with the Cardinals in 1988. On July 6, 1986, Horner went deep four times against the Montreal Expos while playing for the Braves. His home runs weren’t enough to get Atlanta a victory; they fell 11-8 that day.
Seerey was out of the big leagues at age 26, playing in 561 games. His career average was .224 and he led or tied for the league lead in strikeouts four times in his career. In his one season of extended playing time with the White Sox, Seerey put on a display, homering four times in a 12-11 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. He would hit only eight home runs over the remaining 55 games of the season, played in four games in 1949 and was finished.