Tim Kurkjian's Baseball Fix – Two homers and a no-hitter, and other tales of pitchers who actually hit – ESPN


You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.

ON THIS DATE IN 1969, Pitcher Jim Tobin died.

He is one of the best-hitting pitchers ever; he went 15-for-34 (.441) as a rookie in 1937. In 1945, he became the only player to lead both leagues in home runs at his position in the same season.

He is the only pitcher to hit three homers in a game — that happened May 13, 1942. It was almost four. In his first at-bat that day, the wind knocked down a fly ball caught on the warning track in left field. The day before, Tabor had hit a home run as a pinch hitter in his only at-bat. So, a pitcher nearly hit a home run in five consecutive at-bats.

The full “On this date …” archive

Here are a few other odd or amazing hitting feats by pitchers:

We will leave Babe Ruth out of this. That isn’t fair. He isn’t fair.

  • The last pitcher to get five hits in a game was Mel Stottlemyre, who, on Sept. 26, 1964, went 5-for-5 and threw a two-hit shutout against the Senators.

  • Rick Wise hit two home runs in his no-hitter in 1971.

  • The last pitcher to hit two triples in a game was Jim Golden in 1962.

  • Red Faber (1915) was the last pitcher to steal three bases in a game.

  • Don Newcombe (1956) is the only pitcher to hit two homers and steal a base in one game.

  • Tony Cloninger (1966) is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in a game.

  • In 1935, Red Sox pitcher Wes Farrell hit a walk-off home run to win a game that he started. The day before, he had hit a walk-off, three-run, pinch-hit homer. It would be 70 more years before the Red Sox would win back-to-back games with a walk-off home run. Ferrell hit 38 career homers, most by a pitcher. That was 10 more than brother Rick, a Hall of Fame catcher.

  • The last pitchers to hit .300 in a season (minimum 80 at-bats) in which they won 20 games were Catfish Hunter in 1971 and Bob Gibson in 1970.

  • In 1925, Walter Johnson hit .433 and drove in 20 runs in 97 at-bats.

  • In 2019, Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen became the first player since Babe Ruth to hit a home run, get the victory and play the outfield in the same game. “I have a baseball card with just me and Babe Ruth on it,” Lorenzen said. “It doesn’t get any cooler than that.”

Other baseball notes for May 19

  • In 1956, the Pirates’ Dale Long would hit the first home run in what would be a record eight games in a row. He was 30 years old, and he had 25 career home runs in two-plus seasons when the streak began. Eventually, it would be tied by Ken Griffey Jr. and Don Mattingly.

  • In 2008, Jon Lester threw a no-hitter. Jason Varitek was the catcher. It was the fourth no-hitter he had caught, a major league record. Tony Pena caught the most games in history (1,950) without catching a no-hitter.

  • In 1968, Frank Howard’s spectacular home run streak — 10 in six games, at least one homer in each — was finally stopped by Earl Wilson. Howard, who was 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, still might be the strongest man ever to play the game. Cubs third baseman Ron Santo told me that, in a spring training game in the early 1960s, he was knocked unconscious when he was hit in the stomach by a ground ball hit by Howard. When Santo woke up in the hospital, Howard was there, checking on him. Santo asked, “Who is this giant standing over me?”

  • In 2006, Melvin Mora signed a three-year extension with the Orioles. In 2001, his wife had quintuplets. He told me, “We had a whole basketball team.”


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