Baseball is not above the occasional joke every once in awhile. Perhaps less of a joke than a moment that makes you just shake your head and appreciate the spontaneity of sports all at once. For truly sports (NBA is debatable) is the original unscripted reality show. Scooter Gennett proved that once again Tuesday night.
Entering play Tuesday, in 5 Scooter has amassed 38 home runs. Hey, you don’t get a nickname of Scooter (Ryan is his given name) by being a power hitter.
In the third inning, he hit one home run which was also fittingly a Grand Slam. Then in the 4th he hit another. Already he had done something to write home about and make his daughter happy about. He kept going though. He hit another home run in the 6th and came up to the plate for the fourth time in the 8th inning. At this point he had been constantly reminded by his teammates and of course the scoreboard what he was on the verge of. He was undaunted.
In the history of Major League Baseball, we have seen 296 no-hitters and 23 perfect games. Yet we have seen only now 17 times that one player has hit four home runs in a game. Many of these names are recognizable: Lou Gehrig, Bob Horner, Carlos Delgado and Josh Hamilton. Some names are conspicuously absent like Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds and others we give a little nod of “oh yea, I remember him.” Looking at you Mark Whiten. The last player to hit four home runs was Hamilton in fact and he has 200 career home runs.
Juxtaposed to those names of lumber and might stands 5’10” Scooter Gennett and his 38 career home runs, just twenty more than Madison Bumgarner. Surely, with the pitcher knowing his night he wouldn’t get a good pitch to hit, would he?
I recall fondly when in my last game of Little League I faced the A’s lefty Miles Villanueva on June 8th, 1996. My parents, who came to all my games, were running late but I saw them arriving as I stepped into the box. That was a golden season for me, as because of birth dates and school starts I played both on my middle school 7th grade baseball team and in my last year of Little League Majors. Of course, switching back and forth from 90’ basepaths and 60’ got confusing, especially since I was a pitcher and was also alternating between throwing from a mound and without – but it was a glorious confluence of circumstances to give me more baseball than ever before.
As the pitch came in with two runners on base – I knocked it over the fence for my first and only official home run. Obviously the inside-the-park variety don’t count. The next at-bat I swung wildly at three pitches out of the strike zone, one bouncing a foot before it got home.
So back to our hero of the night Scooter Gennett. He would be excused if he exhibited the same recklessness I did at 12 years old in hopes of cementing his stature in the annals of history and halls of Cooperstown. On his first swing, he did just that. The pitcher likely smirked to himself and said, “I just have to keep it in the batter’s box for this guy to swing at it. Yet Scooter had a message for himself. “Just do what you have been doing.”
The pitch came in and Scooter did swing. He did connect solidly with the baseball. Physics did perform the way it was supposed to and with his action on the baseball it created an equal and opposite reaction as it left the field of play for his fourth home run of the game. He had done it.
After the game Scooter excitedly talked about his big day: “It’s surreal, man. It really is. I’m truly blessed. I’m from here, born here. Watching all those guys play when I was little. And to do something that’s never been done — I can’t put words on it.”
In baseball – every day we enter the ballpark we never know what we are going to see happen. Whether another immaculate inning, a fight between grown men, or even a small statured second baseman join an exclusive club of Major League ball players who have hit four home runs in one game.