SABR

The dream hit: A pinch grand slam

By Keith Sutton

This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.

All batters think it's great to hit a home run; they think it's even better to hit one as a pinch hitter; and when the bases are loaded and you're called off the bench to deliver - and you do! There's a lot of wallop there, for the fans, for the team, and for the player. There's hardly anything to match the emotional impact of a pinch grand slam!

In major league history, 121 pinch slams have been hit, 70 in the National League and 51 in the American. No one connected in the 19th century, when pinch hitting was at a minimum. Ironically, the first pinch clam was hit by a pitcher for the Cardinals, Mike O'Neill, in a game against the Braves on June 3, 1902. Mike, born in Ireland, was one of the four O'Neill brothers, the best known of whom was Steve. Another brother, John, caught that June 3 game for the Cards. The first AL pinch slam did not originate until September 24, 1916, when Marty Kavanagh, a utility infielder for Cleveland, hit a hard liner off Hubert "Dutch" Leonard of the Red Sox. The ball rolled through a hole in the fence and every one scored.

Who hits pinch homers with the bases loaded? Not necessarily the great sluggers. Of the top dozen career home run hitters, only Jimmie Foxx and Harmon Killebrew have connected as emergency batters with the bags full. Double-X did it twice, once in each league. Roy Sievers also blasted one in each league. Other two-timers were Vic Wertz, Bill Skowron, and Rich Reese in the AL, and Ed Bailey and Willie McCovey in the Senior Circuit. But the King of Swingers was "Round" Ron Northey, who went "Bingo" on three occasions while with the Cards and Cubs.

It is also noted that no less than five pitchers have come through with pinch, slams. In addition to O'Neill, there was Schoolboy Rowe, Early Wynn, Zeb Eaton, and Tommy Byrne. If pitchers can hit pinch slams, what kind of hurlers can serve them up? Looking over the list, it appears that relief hurlers are the chief victims. This seems only logical, considering that most substitute batters appear late in the game. Only five pitchers were burned twice: Don Mossi, Steve Ridzik, Dave Koslo, Satchel Paige, and Hank Borowy, who was bombed once in each league. Early Wynn was the only player to serve one up (to Bob Cerv in 1961), and to hit one himself (off Jack Gorsica in 1946).

Pinch homers with the bases loaded have been hit in each inning from the 2nd to the 12th. Twenty-eight were hit in the 9th, and 26 in the 7th. Even team managers got into the act. At least two of them looked over their bench and decided that they could do better themselves. Rogers Hornsby connected for his Cubs in 1931, and Phil Cavarretta also hit one for the Cubs shortly after he took over the helm in 1951. Cavvy belted it off Robin Roberts when the latter was at the height of his career. On May 26, 1929, Pat Crawford of the Giants and Lester Bell of the Braves both connected in the same game, the only time that has been accomplished.

The full list of players who have hit pinch hone runs with the bases filled is carried below. (* indicates 2nd game)

 

National League pinch-grand slams, through 1971

Date of Game N.L. Pinch Hitter Opposing Pitcher Inn.
June 3 1902 Mike O'Neill, StL. C. Pittinger, Bos. 9
Aug. 12 1902 Pat Moran, Bos. John Menefee, Chi. *4
Sep. 30 1910 Beals Becker, N.Y. Cliff Curtis, Bos. 5
Apr. 15 1926 Cy Williams, Phil. Larry Benton, Bos. 9
May 1 1927 Chick Tolson, Chi. Ray Kremer, Pitt. 7
June 2 1928 Wattie Holm, StL. Lea Sweetland, Phil. 8
July 13 1928 Jack Cummings, N.Y. Will Sherdel, StL. 5
May 26 1929 Pat Crawford, N.Y. Harry Seibold, Bos. 6
May 26 1929 Leater Bell, Bos. Carl Hubbell, N.Y. 7
June 30 1931 Ethan Allen, N.Y. Pat Malone, Chi. 2
Sep. 13 1931 Rog.Hornsby, Chi. B. Cunningham, Bos. 11
May 14 1933 Mack Wilson, Bkn. Ad Liaka, Phil. 9
July 23 1933 Harvey Hendrick,Chi .Phil Collins, Phil. 10
Oct. 1 1933 Wally Berger, Bos. R. Grabowaki, Phil. 7
June 17 1934 Lefty O'Doul, N.Y. Heinie Meine, Pitt. 6
July 5 1934 Joe Moore, N.Y. Ray Benge, Bkn. 6
July 31 1934 Ernie Lombardi,Cin. R. Birkofer, Pitt. *6
May 23 1936 Sammy Byrd, Cin. Cy Blanton, Pitt. 9
Sep. 19 1936 Rip Collins, StL. Curt Davis, Chi. 7
Apr. 30 1937 Jimmy Ripple, N.Y. Max Butcher, Bkn. 4
Apr. 30 1938 Harl Maggert, Bos. Claude Passeau, Phil 7
July 27 1939 Don Padgett, StL. Manny Salvo, N.Y. 7
Aug. 4 1941 Ken O'Dea, N.Y. Hugh Casey, Blat 6
Sep. 24 1941 Bob Scheffing, Chi. Howie Kriat, StL. 9
June 21 1942 D.Dallessandro,Chi. Bill McGee, N.Y. 9
May 2 1943 Lynwood Rowe, Phil. Al Javery, Bos. *6
Aug. 20 1944 James Russell, Pitt. Art Herring, Bkn. 7
May 18 1945 Jimmy Foxx, Phil. Ken Burkhart, StL. 8
June 2 1945 Vince DiNaggio,Phil. Al Gerheauser, Pitt. 6
July 6 1945 Elmer Nieman, Boa. Xav Rescigno,Pitt. 7
June 6 1946 Frank Secory, Chi. Dave Koslo, N.Y. 12
Sep. 3 1947 Ron Northey, StL. Doyle Lade, Chi. 9
Sep. 9 1947 Cliff Aberson, Chi. Vic Lombardi, Bkn. 8
May 30 1948 Ron Northey, StL. H. Singleton,Pitt. 6
Sep. 11 1948 Ralph Kiner, Pitt. Hank Borowy, Chi. 8
Apr. 27 1949 Pete Milne, N.Y. Pat McGlothin, Bkn. 7
June 30 1950 Sibby Sisti, Bos. Dave Koslo, N.Y. 9
July 8 1950 Jack Phillips,Pitt. H. Brecheen, StL. 9
Sep. 18 1950 Ron Northey, Chi. Dan Bsnkhead, Bkn. 6
July 29 1951 P.Cavarretts, Chi. R. Roberts, Phil. *7
July 20 1952 Andy Seminick, Cin. Curt Simmons, Phil. 5
June 25 1953 Bobby Hofinan, N.Y. Ernie White, StL. 7
July 18 1953 Wayne Belardi, Bkn. C. Chambers, Pitt. 4
Aug. 14 1953 Bill Serena, Chi. Dave Jolly, Mil. 6
Sep. 11 1954 Whitey Lockman, N.Y. Howie Judson, Cin. 7
July 30 1957 Jos Cunningham,StL. Ruben Gomez, N.Y. 9
Aug. 27 1958 Pete Whisenant, Cin. Fred Kipp, L.A. 5
Apr. 18 1959 Gens Freese, Phil. Mike Cuellar, Cin. 3
May 12 1959 Earl Averill Jr.Chi. Lou Burdette, Mil. 9
May 26 1959 Leon Wagnsr, S.F. Art Fowler, L.A. 9
Aug. 13 1959 George Crows, StL. Roger Craig, L.A. 9
June 12 1960 Will NcCovsy, S.F. Carl Willey, Mil. 7
June 26 1962 Ed Bailey, S.F. Joey Jay, Cin. 7
Sep. 9 1962 Carl Sswatski, StL. Jim Brosnan, Cin. 9
Apr. 10 1963 Ed Bailey, S.F. Don NcMahon, Hou. 8
May 26 1963 Roy Sievers, Phil. Bill Henry, Cin. 8
Sep. 11 1963 Gordy Coleman, Cin. Ron Fiche, Mil. 4
Sep. 10 1965 Will McCovey, S.F. T. Abernathy, Chi. 6
July 8 1966 Jim Davenport, S.F. Ted Davidson, Cin. 6
Aug. 17 1966 Hawk Taylor, N.Y. Bob Veale, Pitt. 4
June 11 1967 Don Pavletich, Cin. Dan Schneider, Hou. *9
July 31 1967 Jack Hiatt, S.F. ElRoy Face, Pitt. 8
Sep. 16 1967 Rick Joseph, Phil. R. Perranoski, L.A. 11
May 2 1969 Al Ferraro, S.D. George Culver, Cin. 4
June 8 1969 Jerry May, Pitt. Paul Doyle, Atl. 7
July 2 1969 Vic Davalillo, StL. Ron Taylor, N.Y. 8
May 18 1970 Bob Bailey, Mont. Cal Koonce, N.Y. 9
July 19 1970 James Hutto, Phil. Jim Brewer, L.A. 9
July 22 1970 Tom Haller, L.A. C. Raymond, Mont. 7
Aug. 11 1970 Carl Taylor. StL. Ron Herbel, S.D. 9

 

American League pinch-grand slams, through 1971

Date of Game A.L. Pinch Hitter Opposing Pitcher Inn.
Sep. 24 1916 Marty Kavanagh ,Clev. Hub. Leonard, Bos. 5
June 6 1923 Joe Connolly, Clev. Geo. Murray. Bos. 4
May 30 1930 Al Simmons, Phil. Gar.Braxton, Wash. 4
July 13 1931 Dib Williams, Phil. Bobby Burke, Wash. 8
Sep. 21 1931 Jimmy Foxx, Phil. Tom Bridges, Det. *7
Sep. 10 1934 Cliff Bolton, Wash. H. Klaerner, Chi. 7
May 14 1939 Rudy York, Det. Howard Milla, St.L *9
July 3 1940 Taft Wright, Chi. Lynn Nelson, Det. 9
May 28 1941 Geo. Selkirk, N.Y. Sid Hudson, Wash. 8
May 31 1944 Al Unser, Det. Walt Dubiel N.Y. 9
June 11 1944 Gene Moore, StL. Joe Hewing, Clev. *7
July 15 1945 Zeb Eaton, Det. Hank Borowy, N.Y. 4
Sep. 15 1946 Early Wynn, Wash. Jack Gorsica, Det. 5
May 4 1947 Jack Wallaesa, Chi. R. Christopher,Phil 0.8
Aug. 27 1950 Clyde Voilmer, Bos. Al Benton, Clev. 7
Sep. 17 1950 Johnny Mopp, N.Y. Ad Widmar, StL. 9
Aug. 2 1951 Chas.Maxwell, Bos. Satchel Paige, StL. *7
July 26 1952 Steve Souchock,Det. Bobby Mogue, N.Y. 11
Sep. 3 1952 Don Kolloway, Det. Lou Brisaie, Clev. 6
Sep. 7 1952 Johnny Mize, N.Y. W. Maateraon, Wash. 6
Apr. 25 1953 Dick Kryhoski, N.Y. Harry Dorish, Chi. 7
May 16 1953 Tommy Byrne, Chi. E. Blackwell, N.Y. 9
June 7 1953 Yogi Berra, N.Y. Satchel Paige, StL. 7
July 6 1953 Mickey Mantle, N.Y. P. Panowich, Phil. 6
Aug. 9 1953 Gus Zernial, Phil. Ray Herbert, Det. *6
Aug. 17 1954 Bill Skowron, N.Y. Al Sima, Phil. 9
July 12 1956 Hank Bauer, N.Y. Don Mossi, Clev. 6
May 2 1957 Walter Dropo, Chi. Chuck Stobbs, Wash. 6
July 14 1957 Bill Skowron, N.Y. Jim Wilson, Chi. *9
Apr. 21 1958 Prank House, K.C. Steve Ridzik, Clev. 8
Aug. 14 1958 Vic Wertz, Bos. Ryne Duren, N.Y. 8
May 10 1960 Rip Repulski, Bos. D. Ferrarese, Chi. 8
Aug. 25 1960 Vic Wertz, Bos. Don Newcombe, Clev. 4
Sep. 24 1960 M. Throneberry,K.C. Bob Bruce, Det. 6
May 28 1961 Robert Cerv, N.Y. Early Wynn. Chi. 6
June 21 1961 Roy Siewera, Chi. Don Mossi, Clev. 4
July 4 1961 Julio Becquer,Minn. War. Hacker, Chi. 9
July 7 1961 Jim Gentile, Balt. Ed Rakow, K.C. 6
July 9 1961 Sherm Lollar, Clev. Prank Punk. Clev. 9
July 21 1961 John Blanchard,N.Y. M. Pornielea, Bos. 9
Aug. 12 1961 Gene Green, Wash. Luis Arroyo, N.Y. 7
July 17 1963 Geo. Alusik, K.C. Hal Kolatad, Bos. 8
May 16 1965 P. Whitfield, Clev. Steve Ridzik, Wash. *6
Apr. 17 1966 Bob Chance, Wash. Julio Navarro, Det. 7
Aug. 3 1969 Rich Reese, Minn. Dave McNally, Balt. 7
June 7 1970 Rich Reese, Minn. Dick Bosman, Wash. 6
June 30 1970 Warren Renick,Minn. Bob Johnson, K.C. 6
Sep. 5 1970 Reg. Jackson, Oak. T. Burgmeier, K.C. 8
July 25 1971 Bobby Murcer, N.Y. Lew Krausse, Mil. *2
Aug. 31 1971 Don Mincher, Wash. R. Hambright, N.Y. 6
Sep. 3 1971 H. Killebrew, Minn. Jim Grant, Oak. 6

 

(Editor's note: To view a list of all pinch-hit grand slams through 2012, via the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, click here.)

Assisted by Raymond Gonzalez and Leonard Gettelson.

 

This article originally appeared in the 1972 "Baseball Research Journal."

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