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ON THIS DATE ... Last Updated: Jul 2, 2008 - 11:43 PM


JULY 3 (1966) - Slams*
By Bill Grimes
Jul 3, 2008 - 3:03 PM

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Offensive Explosion from Unlikely Source

 

JULY 3, 1966 SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA On this date in baseball history Tony Cloninger of the Atlanta Braves became the first National Leaguer to hit two grand slam home runs in one game. Remarkable as that feat was, the display of power stands out mainly because Cloninger was the Braves’ pitcher. He drove in 9 runs, while pitching a 7-hit complete game as the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 17-3.

tony_cloninger_autograph.jpg
Image courtesy of Baseball Almanac

 

Speaking of home run hitting pitchers, the best, most would agree, was Babe Ruth. In the four full seasons before he became an every day outfielder he hit 20 home runs. One of the home run leaders of the day, Gavvy Cravath hit 55 over the same time period, but being an everyday player, had about 1200 more at bats than Ruth.

 

Ruth was really a slugger who happened to pitch a few years. Let’s look at ballplayers who were pitchers their entire careers. The home run king was Wes Ferrell. He hit 9 in 1931 alone, a record for pitchers which stands today.

 

Top 10 career home run hitting players who were primarily pitchers :

Wes Ferrell             38

Bob Lemon           37

Redd Ruffing        36

Warren Spahn       35

Jack Stivetts          35

Earl Wilson            35

Don Drysdale        29

John Clarkson       24

Bob Gibson            24

Walter Johnson     23

 

For the record, Tony Cloninger hit 11 career home runs.

 

Sources:

http://www.esb.com/

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=374

 

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