In keeping with today’s theme inspired by Dustin Pedroia’s three home run game against the Rockies, here is a list of every player to have hit three or more home runs in a major league game .
You will note that three home run games have been particularly common in the last 20 years, when the PED-fueled offensive barrage reached its peak.
The original “Big Cat” Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa are the all-time leaders with six different three home run games each. Joe Carter, Dave Kingman, Mark McGwire, and Carlos Delgado each hit three or more in five different games.
Babe Ruth is still the only player to have two three home run games in the post-season, let alone the World Series.
Pending Carlos Delgado’s return (he will reportedly be ready to return from his second hip surgery in June if anyone is interested—I hope so, as he’s only 27 HRs short of 500, and he hit 38 HRs as recently as 2008), Albert Pujols is the active leader with four three-home run games.
In the Dead Ball Era between 1900 and 1920, not one player hit three home runs in a major league game.
Interestingly, Babe Ruth did not have a three home run game in any of the four years (1919, 1920, 1921, and 1927) in which he set the single season HR record. Nor did Roger Maris (or for that matter, Mickey Mantle) in 1961.
Mark McGwire did it twice, and Sammy Sosa once in 1998, the year they decimated the old HR record. Barry Bonds did it twice in 2001, and Sosa three more times that same year. The feat was accomplished a ridiculous 22 times in 2001, the year with the most three home run games.
George Bell (1988), Tuffy Rhodes (1994), and Dmitri Young (2005) had their big days on Opening Day.
Now’s a good time for a trivia question: Who are the only two major league players to hit five home runs in a double-header? This is a record that will probably never be matched again, since MLB teams no longer schedule double-headers.
In a final note, Christian Guerrero, a 30-year-old outfielder with the Gary-Southshore Railcats of the Independent A Northern League and a cousin of Major Leaguers Wilton and Vladimir Guerrero, hit home runs in five consecutive at-bats in a June 9, 2010 double header against the Rockford RiverHawks. According to the Northern League’s press release announcing Guerrero Player of the Week for the week ending June 13th, this is only the second time in professional baseball that a player has ever hit home runs in five consecutive at-bats, the first time being by Corey Parker on the Bangor Blue Ox of the now-defunct Northeast League.
I kind of suspect that someone else did it in the minors at some time between 1920 and 1970, but I don’t have the information at hand to prove it.
Answer to the trivia question: Stan “The Man” Musial for the Cardinals against the New York Giants on May 2, 1954, and Nate Colbert for the Padres against the Atlanta Braves on August 1, 1972. Colbert was from St. Louis and claims to have personally attended the game in which Musial first accomplished the feat. Whether or not he actually did, it’s a great story.