Pitchers as Home Run Hitters

This article was written by Keith Sutton

This article was published in the 1974 Baseball Research Journal


With the American League going to the designated hitter for the pitcher in 1973, there is some basis for looking back at the celebrated days when pitchers played their part at bat as well as on the mound.  The National League still had some batting drama from pitchers in 1973.   Cardinals’ pitchers Bob Gibson and Rick Wise both hit grand slam homers, the second for each in their careers.  And Phil hurler Ken Brett hit home runs in four consecutive games pitched, a remarkable record.  Those were the only homers he hit in 1973 but it was enough to lead all other hurlers.

Most of the great batting efforts by pitchers of the past revolve around home runs.  Only two hurlers ever hit three homers in a game.   Most of us remember when Big Jim Tobin did it for the Boston Braves on May 13, 1942.   He had to provide his own batting support to win 6-5.   The other one was an oldtimer, Guy Hacker of Louisville in the old American Association in 1886.   He also had three singles in seven trips, and also scored seven runs in a very high-scoring game against Baltimore.  The seven runs in a game is still an all-time record and he also is the only pitcher to collect six hits in a game.  His case was a little different in that he was almost a full-time player, filling in at first or in the outfield when he wasn’t pitching.   In fact, he had enough at bats in 1886 to qualify for and win the AA batting title with a .341 mark.   He edged out teammate Pete Browning by one point, according to the Macmillan Encyclopedia.

Pitchers have connected for two homers in a game on 54 occasions.   Several hurlers did it more than once, most notable among them being Was Perrell, who hit dual roundtrippers in a game on five occasions.   Don Newcombe did it three times, and Red Ruffing, Law Burdette, Jack Harshman, Dick Donovan, Pedro Ramos, Tony Cloninger, and Rick Wise did it twice.   At least two of these feats merit special mention.

Tony Cloninger hit two homers in a game on June 16, 1966.   Only two weeks later, on July 3, he again hit two homers in a game and they were both grand slams!    He also had a single and knocked in 9 runs, a record for a pitcher and one of the top performances for any player.  Rick Wise also had a couple of two-homer games in the summer of 1971, but the startling thing about the first time, on June 23, was that he didn’t neglect his pitching either.   He tossed a no-hit, no-run game against the Reds.

Relief pitchers are not restricted from the two-home sweepstakes.  Two Tiger hurlers — Jess Doyle in 1925 and Babe Birrer in 1955 — both pitching the last four innings came up twice and connected both times.  For Birrer it was two 3-run belts, and that was probably why they called him “Babe.”   Another pitcher hit two homers while in “relief,” but it was in relief of an outfielder.  On May 8, 1906, Chief Bender went to the A’s outfield to replace an injured player.  Later coming to bat he hit two fourbaggers, a feat he was never able to accomplish while pitching.

Here is the list of pitchers hitting two or more home runs in a game.  For several of them, those were the only fourbaggers they ever hit.   To put their performance in perspective, their season and career home run totals are listed as well.  Asterisks indicate that one or more of the homers were hit as a non-pitcher.

Three Home Runs in a Game

 

 

 

Season

Career

Date

Pitcher and Club

Total

Total

Aug. 15 1886 (2)

Guy Hecker, Lou. AA

4

19*

May  13 1942

James Tobin, Bos. NL

6

17

 

 

Two Home Runs in a Game

 

 

 

 

 

Season

Career

Date

 

 

Pitcher and Club

Total

Total

Aug.

6

1891

John Stivetts, StL. AA

7

35*

July

27

1894

Scott Stratton, Chi. NL

3

8*

July

4

1695

Frank Foreman, Cin. NL

4

9*

Sep.

17

1910

Ed Summers, Det. AL

2

2

June

30

1912

Ed Willett, Det. AL

2

5

May

2

1919

James Shaw, Wash. AL

3

4

July

29

1924

Arthur Nehf, N.Y.  NL

5

8

Sep.

10

1925 (1)

Gar. Buckeye, CIev. AL

3

5

Sep.

28

1925 (2)

Jess Doyle, Det. AL

2

2

June

24

1926 (1)

Jack Knight, Phil. NL

2

2

July

22

1930

Phil Collins, Phil. NL

3

3

Sep.

18

1930

Red Ruffing, N.Y. AL

4

36

Aug.

31

1931

Wes Ferrell, Clev. AL

9

38

Aug.

31

1932

Elon Hogsett, Det. AL

2

6

Apr.

24

1934

Hal Schumacher, N.Y. NL

6

15

July

13

1934

Wes Ferrell,  Bos. AL

4

38

Aug.

22

1934

Wes Ferrell,  Bos. AL

4

38

July

21

1935

Wes Ferrell,  Bos. AL

7

38

July

31

1935

Mel Harder, Clev. AL

2

4

June

17

1936 (1)

Red Ruffing, N.Y. AL

5

36

Aug.

12

1936 (1)

Wee Ferrell, Bos. AL

5

38

Aug.

14

1937 (1)

Eldon Aukor, Det. AL

3

6

June

16

1940 (2)

Jack Wilson, Bos. AL

2

3

July

26

1940

Spud Chandler, N.Y. AL

2

9

May

7

1941

William Lee,  Chi. NL

2

5

May

20

1945

Bucky Walters, Cin. NL

3

11

July

7

1949

Dave Koslo, N.Y. NL

2

3

July

24

1949

Bob Lemon, Clev. AL

7

37

July

6

1952

Ben Wade, Bkn. NL

3

4

Apr.

14

1955

Don Newcombe, Bkn. NL

7

15

May

30

1955 (2)

Don Newcombe, Bkn.

7

15

June

9

1955

James Bean, N.Y.    ML

4

9

July

19

1955

Babe Birrer, Det. AL

2

2

Sep.

19

1956

Don Newcombe, Bkn.

2

15

July

14

1957 (1)

Billy Hoeft, Bet. AL

3

3

Aug.

13

1957

Lew Burdette, Mil. NL

2

12

July

10

1958

Lew Burdette, Mil. NL

3

12

July

16

1958 (2)

Jack Harshniam, Bal. AL

6

19

Aug.

23

1958

Don Dryadale, L.A.  ML

7

29

Sep.

23

1958

Jack Narshman,  Bal. AL

6

19

Sep.

2

1960

Don Cardwell, Chi. ML

5

15

July

2

1961

Glen Hobbie, CM. ML

2

4

Aug.

27

1961

Nut Pappas, Bal. AL

3

20

May

18

1962

Dick Donovan, Clev. AL

4

15

May

30

1962 (1)

Pedro Ramos, Clev. AL

3

15

Aug.

31

1962

Dick Donovan, Clev. AL

4

15

July

31

1963 (2)

Pedro Ramos, Clev. AL

3

15

Aug.

16

1965

Earl Wilson, Bos. AL

6

35

June

16

1966

Tony Cloninger, Atl. NL

5

11

July

3

1966

Tony Cloninger, Atl. NL

5

11

July

7

1969

Jim Rooker, K.C. AL

4

5

June

23

1971

Rick Wise, Phil. MT.

6

15

Aug.

28

1971 (2)

Rick Wise, Phil. NT.

6

15

Sep.

2

1971

Sonny Siebert, Bos. AL

6

12

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