Thursday, April 30, 2015

Willie Mays Hits Four Round-Trippers In One Game April 30, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History April 30, 1961: Facing the Milwaukee Braves for the third consecutive game and looking down the barrel of an 0-7 slump, San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays broke out of his slump with force. Mays became the ninth player (at the time) to hit four homeruns in one game. In clubbing the Braves with four homeruns, Mays drove in eight runs while homering in the first and third off Lew Burdett, in the sixth off of Seth Morehead and in the eighth inning off of Don McMahon. The opportunity to hit a fifth homerun in the game was oh so close for Mays but he would be stranded on the on-deck circle as the last out of the ninth of at 14-4 game was made by Jim Davenport.

In the article Mays, 0 for 7 Against Braves, Feared Slump Would Continue from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961 was quoted as saying the following of his achievement:
"I don't know what happened to me," he said afterwards. "When the game started, I didn't feel I would come out of my slump. But on my first time at-bat, I was seeing the ball better. No, I didn't use a different bat." 
"When you hit two homers in a game that's something you don't expect anymore," Mays said. "Hitting four is hard to believe!" 
He admitted that he "might have pressed" if he had gotten another time at bat in the ninth, knowing that he could break the record 
No player has ever hit five homeruns in a game. Here is the list of the players (and dates) that hit four homers in a game before and after Willie Mays did it on April 30, 1961
  1. Bobby Lowe (05-30-1894)
  2. Ed Delahanty HOF (07-13-1896)
  3. Lou Gehrig HOF (06-03-1932)
  4. Chuck Klein HOF (07-10-1936)
  5. Pat Seerey (07-18-1948)
  6. Gil Hodges (08-31-1950)
  7. Joe Adcock (07-31-1954)
  8. Rocky Colavito (06-10-1959)
  9. Willie Mays HOF (04-30-1961)
  10. Mike Schmidt HOF (04-17-1976)
  11. Bob Horner (07-06-1986)
  12. Mark Whiten (09-07-1993)
  13. Mike Cameron (05-02-2002)
  14. Shawn Green (05-23-2002)
  15. Carlos Delgado (09-25-2003)
  16. Josh Hamilton (05-08-2012)
The article #TBT: Mays hits 4 home runs in one game by Chris Haft of has a series of anecdotes from some of Mays' teammates at the time including Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda about the four home run game.

Here is the boxscore for the April 30, 1961 game between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961.

With the current power outage in MLB post-PED's, who do you think will be the next player to hit four homeruns in a game. Mike Trout? Nelson Cruz? Giancarlo Santon? We'll have to see if, and when, that happens.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Boxscore for the April 30, 1961 matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from Baseball Reference