The Boston Red Sox is a historic franchise that is filled with Hall of Famers and world champions. So when Mookie Betts did something involving the long ball that not even David Ortiz has done concerning the long ball, it raised many eyebrows. Brandon Magee takes a walk down memory lane to discuss the Boston Red Sox three home run club, and their most recent member.
On Tuesday, May 31 in Baltimore, Mookie Betts joined a select group of Boston Red Sox who have knocked three balls out of the park in one game. The group includes all-time greats, Red Sox legends, and a few players that have been lost in the mists of time. Today we continue celebrating Betts’s ascension to this band of ballplayers by looking back at the others who have accomplished the feat.
One Time is Still Historic
June 8, 1950 was a historic offensive day for the Boston Red Sox. At home against the St. Louis Browns, the Red Sox obliterated their guests by a score of 29-4. Every starter, except centerfielder Clyde Vollmer, had a multi-hit game – including starting pitcher Chuck Stobbs who had two singles and four walks. Ted Williams had two home runs, as did Walt Dropo. But, it was second baseman Bobby Doerr who stole the show.
Doerr had already been up three times when he approached the plate in the fourth inning with Walt Dropo on first base. Doerr took Cuddles Marshall deep and increased the Sox lead to 14, 17-3. After a flyout in the fifth, Doerr came up in the seventh with Al Zarilla on base. Doerr would knock a Sid Schacht pitch over the fence for his second two-run bomb of the day, putting the Sox up 24-3. The very next inning, Doerr would come up again, this time with no one on base. He would take another Sid Schacht pitch out of the park for his third homer of the day – doubling his season total to that point – and putting the final Boston run on the board. The Hall of Fame second baseman would hit 27 home runs in 1950, his penultimate major-league season. For his career, Bobby knocked 223 balls out of the ballyard.
Over his ten-year major league career, Clyde Vollmer played in 685 games and hit 69 home runs. The itinerant outfielder’s best season was in 1951 with the Red Sox, where he played in 115 games, batting .251/.346/.456 with just about one-third of his career home runs (22). His best game also happened that season, on July 26 against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.
Vollmer, batting in the seventh spot, came up with Bobby Doerr on base in the first inning, and drilled a pitch off reliever Luis Aloma for a two-run bomb, placing Boston on top 5-3. Vollmer would come up for his third at-bat in the fifth inning, hitting a solo shot off of Randy Gumpert, putting the Red Sox back on top 8-7. The next inning, Vollmer would come up with Doerr and Billy Goodman on base and the game tied at 10. He drove a pitch off of Fritz Dorish out of the park, and put Boston up 13-10, the eventual final score.
Norm Zauchin had a glorious rookie season in 1955, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting. It would also be his only major-league season as a full-time starter. Zauchin hit 27 of his 50 MLB home runs in 1955, and three of them came on one day, May 27, against the Washington Senators at Fenway Park.
Zauchin came up to bat with Gene Stephens on first base in the first inning, taking a Bob Porterfield pitch out of the park and putting the Red Sox up 3-0. Zauchin would come up again the next inning, this time with Tom Brewer, Gene Stephens, and Jackie Jensen on base. Zauchin would (grand) slam reliever Dean Stone and put Boston on top, 9-0. Norm would pick up another RBI in the 4th, hitting a double off of Ted Abernathy, and putting the Red Sox on top 10-0. He would face Abernathy again the next inning, and with Billy Goodman and Jackie Jensen on base, he would knock his third ball out of the park and put the Sox up 15-0. Zauchin would have a chance to make it a quartet of bombs in the 7th, but would strike out against Pedro Ramos. Zauchin drove in ten of the Red Sox runs in the 16-0 whitewashing of the Senators.
Ken Harrelson’s Red Sox career lasted a mere 183 games. The Hawk’s lone full season in Boston was the best of his career, as he blasted 35 home runs, lead the league with 109 RBI, earned his only All-Star game appearance, and finished third in the MVP voting. On June 14, 1968, Harrelson joined the elite club of “3 HR in one game” players.
The Hawk had already made two outs against Cleveland Indians starter Luis Tiant when he came to bat in the 5th with the Sox down 1-0. With Carl Yastrzemski on base after drawing a walk, Harrelson drove El Tiante’s pitch over the wall and put the Red Sox ahead 2-1. In the next inning, Harrelson would come up again against Tiant, this time with Joe Foy and Yaz on the bases, and he would once again take a pitch out of the park, placing Boston up 5-1. The Hawk would come up once more in the eighth inning, and with Yaz on base yet again, Ken would knock an Eddie Fisher pitch out of the playing field, giving Boston their final two scores of the game. In the 7-2 win, Harrelson was the offense, driving in all seven runs on his trio of home runs.
Joe Lahoud had a single home run in his major-league career when the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins began their game at Metropolitan Stadium on June 11, 1969. At the end of the day, Lahoud would have four career homers, hitting an inexplicable three on the day.
The 22-year-old Lahoud came up for his first at-bat in the second inning. With Rico Petrocelli on base after a walk, Lahoud knocked a Dave Boswell pitch out of the park for his first bomb of the season, putting Boston up 2-0. After a strikeout in the 3rd, Lahoud would lead off the 5th with his second homer of the day off of reliever Dick Woodson, putting the Red Sox up 8-4. Joe would ground out in the sixth before leading off against Twins reliever Bob Miller in the eighth. Lahoud would slug his third home run of the day and of the 1969 season to make the score 13-5. Lahoud would hit six more homers the rest of the season and would total 65 in his eleven-year career.
Fred Lynn had a magical rookie season in 1975, winning both the AL Rookie of the Year and the AL MVP Awards, as well as picking up a Gold Glove in centerfield and earning an All-Star selection. In a season of many highlights, June 18th against the Detroit Tigers at Tigers Stadium may have been the pinnacle.
Lynn came up to bat in the first inning with Carl Yastrzemski on base, and took a Joe Coleman pitch out of the park, putting Boston up 3-0. He would face Coleman again in the second inning, this time with Rick Burleson and Yaz prowling the bases, and he would once again knock the ball out of the park, putting the Red Sox up 7-1. Facing Bob Reynolds in the third, Lynn would drive in both Yaz and Burleson with a triple, putting Boston up 11-1. After a lineout in the fifth and a single in the eighth, it appeared that a three home run game was out of the question. But, Doug Griffin and Cecil Cooper each singled in the ninth inning, bringing up Lynn once more. Lynn would make the last at-bat count, taking a pitch by Tom Walker out of Tigers Stadium, finalizing the score at 15-1. Lynn drove in ten of those runs while touching 16 total bases. Lynn hit 21 home runs in 1975 and 306 total for his career.
The Detroit Tigers and Tiger Stadium also played host to Yaz’s big day the following season.
On May 19, 1976, Carl had a perfect day in a 9-2 Red Sox victory. After walking in his first at-bat in the second inning, Yastrzemski faced Detroit starter Dave Roberts with Carlton Fisk on first base in the fourth inning. Yaz swatted a big fly out of the park, putting the Red Sox in the lead, 3-2. The next inning, after Jim Rice had knocked Roberts out of the game with a three-run homer, Yaz greeted reliever Steve Grilli with another long ball, a solo shot for his second home run of the day, putting the Sox up by five runs. Capt. Carl singled to lead off the seventh inning, delaying the possibility of a third homer for a few innings. Yaz would lead off the ninth inning against John Hiller, and crushed his third ball out of the park, giving the Red Sox their final advantage.
Yastrzemski, who picked up his 11th consecutive All-Star appearance during the bicentennial year, ended the season with 21 homers. The Hall-of-Famer knocked 452 balls out of major-league parks during his 23 years with the Red Sox.
In our final article, we look at the Red Sox who accomplished the feat in the 1990s and in the 2000s.
Brandon Magee is our minor league expert; he has written about minor league travel, ranking prospects, a first round draft pick, and the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Follow Brandon on Twitter @cuzittt.