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Baseball Analysis  John Holway


By John B Holway

I saw Alfonso Soriano hit three homers last Friday. I was pulling for #3 after his second one. He lined out and doubled before he hit it a 3-run shot to win the game. Did I call it or not?

He should be hitting cleanup instead of leadoff. In first inning, four of the first five Nats hit, and they scored only one run, Soriano’s homer. If he'd been batting third, they’d have scored to or three runs.

It’s the fourth time I've seen three in one gme.

The first time was by Bill (Swish) Nicholson of the Cubs in the New York Polo Grounds in ’44 or ’45. He used to take a slow cut with his but while waiting for the pitch, and the fans would yell, “Swish!” He hit three in the first game and one in the second. Next time he came up, the bases were load, and they gave him an intentional walk.

I saw Bill Melton of the White Sox do it (two against Jim Bouton) on a drizzly cold night in Seattle in ’69. Two went into the short porch in left.

And I saw Mac hit three in one game in Philadelphia when he hit his 70. Two were upper deck, and the third was in the centerfield seats beyond the fence on the field.

I more vividly remember another game in Philadelphia when Curt Schilling struck him out in a gamer situation. He was the last out of the inning, and he had to stand there with no place to hide, tugging off his batting gloves until the batboy brought him out his fielding mitt and he could cover his embarrassment throwing grounders to the infielders.

I saw Maris hit three in ’61 (two in one game), one into a new bullpen in the centerfield corner in DC that wasn't there when Ruth played.

And I saw Bonds hit #70 in Houston.

One of the longest was by Bill Skowron. I was at a Yankee reunion in New York and caught Moose and Hank Bauer in the bar. I said to Moose, “I saw the longest home run you ever hit.” He started guessing, “Cleveland?” “No.” “St Louis?” “No.” “Chicago?” “No. 1950, Iowa City Iowa.” His eyes got big as saucers. “You saw that one?” He was playing for Purdue, and he got one up into the March jet stream, and it may still be circling around overhead out there.

The two longest were by Mickey Opening Day 1957. On successive at bats against Camilio Pascual, both over the 28-foot centerfield fence, 434 feet away. I was sitting half-way up the left-centerfield bleachers, and they sailed out at my eye level. Ever go to a puppet show as a kid, and after an hour of staring at the stage, after the final curtain the puppeteer sticks his head onto the stage, and you jump back in shock? That's what it was like. Mantle had just dwarfed every other human home run I'd ever seen. Yogi skimmed one into the new seats in front of the bleachers that day, a merely mortal shot.

Babe and Ted were the only other two ever to clear the fence there. Larry Doby hit the P.A. horn on top of the fence.

Ted’s came on Opening Day of his last season, 1960, also against Pascual. Nixon and Ike were there. Nixon said, “This may be Ted’s last year, let’s root for a home run.” “OK,” Ike said. And Ted did in his first at bat. Pascual was hot that game too. He tied Johnson’s was record for strikeouts in one game. Ted was the only run he gave up.

Ted called 16 himself that I know of.

One of my favorites was told to me by Mace Brown, a Red Sox reliever. In ’42 in Chicago Ted told Brown, “I wonder how high I can hit one?” and he gave a Mel Ott kick and hit it a mile high to the infield. Brown told him, “That's the worst thing you ever did. My mother came all the way from Iowa to see you. She never saw you hit a homer.”

Next time up, Ted blasted one into the upper deck. He trotted back to the dugout and told Mace, “Tell your mother that one was for her.”


John B Holway’s book, TED, the Kid, will be published this summer by Scorpio Books. To reserve a copy, send an email to John Holway.

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