This Week in History: June 25-July 1
The week of June 25-July 1 has seen its share of big home runs.
On June 25, 1968, for instance, Bobby Bonds hit a grand slam in his Major League debut, becoming just the second player in MLB history to accomplish that.
Three years later, Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell hit the longest home run in Veterans Stadium history in a game against the Phillies, a blast that was later immortalized when a black “S” inscribed inside a yellow star was painted on the portion of Section 601 where the titanic home run landed.
And, in 2000, Darin Erstad started the game with a dinger and then hit an 11th inning walk-off homer to help the Angels defeat the Twins, becoming the third man in MLB history to hit both a lead-off and walk-off homer in the same game.
June 26, 1963 saw the Houston Colt .45s (now Astros) break a 30-inning scoreless streak in dramatic fashion, as Al Spangler hit a home run that opened the floodgates in an eventual 7-2 win over Milwaukee.
Seven years later, Orioles star Frank Robinson hit grand slams in consecutive at-bats in Baltimore’s 12-2 win over the Senators, becoming just the seventh man to hit a pair of grannies in the same game.
And, in 2003, it was a two-run home run that put Edgar Martinez atop the Mariners’ all-time RBI list, with the blast giving him 1,153 RBI and moving him past Ken Griffey Jr. to become the franchise leader – a position he held in eight other categories at the time as well.
June 27 has seen a couple “old” Philadelphians and a legendary Giant make history.
The first of the Philadelphians hit the books in 1930, as 46-year-old Jack Quinn of the Athletics became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a homer. Nine days shy of his 47th birthday, Quinn launched a solo shot at Shibe Park to set the record.
Exactly 80 years later, a 47-year-old Phillies pitcher surpassed a franchise mate when Jamie Moyer gave up the 506th home run of his career – passing Hall of Famer Robin Roberts for the most gopher balls allowed by a hurler in MLB history.
As for the Cove, that belongs to Willie McCovey, who on 6/27/77 because the first Major Leaguer to hit two homers in an inning twice in his career, as his pair in one frame that day matched the pair he belted on April 12, 1973.
June 28 has seen a couple milestone homers – including Darryl Strawberry’s 300th in 1996 and Frank Thomas’ 500th in 2007 – but it also saw the Yankees set a pair of single-day records.
On this date in 1939, the Yankees hit eight homers in the first game of a doubleheader with the Athletics and five in the nightcap, giving them the most in a single game (8) and in a doubleheader (13 total) in MLB history.
This date also saw Dwight Evans of the Red Sox cap off a cycle in emphatic fashion, hitting a walk-off three-run blast to finish the odyssey and lead the Sox to a 9-6 win over Seattle on June 28, 1984.
June 29, 1984 is a day Andre David will never forget, as he hit his only Major League home run…in his first MLB at-bat. The Twins outfielder, who recorded just 13 hits in 63 plate appearances in his career, went deep off Jack Morris to help Minnesota down Detroit 5-3.
June 30 is the date where one park saw its last homer, another saw its first, and a third saw its team’s third straight long-ball ending.
On this day in 1938, Giants outfielder Hank Lieber hit the final home run at Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl, going deep to help New York defeat the Phillies 14-1…and 32 years later, it was future home run king Hank Aaron who christened Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, going deep of Reds hurler Jim McGlothin in the Braves’ 8-2 win.
Meanwhile, in 2004, the Tigers won their third straight game via the walk-off homer, as Dmitri Young’s two-run blast propelled Detroit past Cleveland 9-7 and joined him with teammates Eric Munson and Carlos Pena as the team’s heroes of the week.
This date in 1977 also saw Cliff Johnson become the third Yankee (behind DiMaggio and Pepitone) to hit two home runs in an inning, and in 1978, Willie McCovey (who, as noted above, knows something about the two homers in an inning feat) hit his 500th round-tripper against the Braves.
Rounding out the week, July 1 saw an iconic home run hitter go deep in his dramatic return to the bigs. On July 1, 1945, Tigers star Hank Greenberg returned after spending four years in the military serving in World War I and promptly homered to help Detroit defeat the Athletics 9-5.
And finally, July 1 is the date of two of the most bizarre inside-the-park homers in MLB lore. In 1958, The Cubs’ Tony Taylor got one when his team’s bullpen pitchers tricked Giants rookie outfielder Leon Wagner into looking for the ball in the wrong spot, and in 1907, Houston’s Tim Bogar got his own when Manny Ramirez misinterpreted the Astrodome’s ground rules and failed to play a ball lodged underneath the bullpen bench.
And that’s the week that was, for the week that is.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES