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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Top 5 Non Traditional Grand Slams

With the recent walk-off grand slam home runs by Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Votto, I was taken back by some of the wackiest grand slams in Major League Baseball history. The intriguing part about walking to the plate with the bases loaded is getting a good pitch to hit. Grand slams have no names on them, it's about being in the right place at the right time. Some ballplayers such as Lou Gehrig have a history of hitting grand slams. Til this day, he is still the all-time leader in total grand slams with 23, one more than Alex Rodriguez. Travis Hafner and Don Mattingly are the all-time leaders in grand slams in a season with 6. After throwing a mistake pitch, I wonder how many pitchers would have considered intentional walking some of those multiple offenders. It's better to give up one run than four! Here are my top 5 wackiest grand slam home runs, major league pitchers wish they have never thrown.

(#5) June 12, 2010 - Rookie Daniel Nava first ever pitch, grand slam! Philadelphia Phillies vs. Boston Red Sox

Daniel Nava was called up from the minor leagues to replace a depleted Boston outfield. On his first at-bat, Nava faced Philadelphia Phillies starter Joe Blanton with the bases full of Red Sox. The first major league pitch Nava saw was a fastball that ended up in the bullpen, over the right field wall, for a grand slam homerun. Since that day, he has been in and out of the majors.

Daniel Nava surfaced amongst the major league as a Red Sox again. On May 14, 2012, he was called back to the Majors, where he wasted no time belting a 2 run shot against the Seattle Mariners in Fenway Park. That hit was the second big league home run of his career and first since the grand slam he hit against Joe Blanton.

(#4) July 3, 1966 - Tony Cloninger 2 grand slams in a game! Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

Can you imagine what kind of stories Tony Cloninger has told his family about his time playing professional baseball? Well there is one story that happened in the Major Leagues that was true. The night before the 4th of July, Tony Cloninger decided to set off his own fireworks at Candlestick Park in San Francisco by hitting two grand slam home runs in one game. Cloninger mastered that task in front of Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Oh, did I forget to mention that he was a pitcher? He also added another hit that scored an additional run. Cloninger's nine RBIs is still a record for pitchers. On the same day, he threw a complete game against the Giants as his team won 17-3. Since setting the record of two grand slams in 1966, only 12 other MLB players have accomplished the such a feat, none of whom have been pitchers.

(#3) August 25, 2011 - once, twice, three times grand slam! Oakland A's vs New York Yankees

Never in the history of the New York Yankees have the "Bronx Bombers" hit two grand slams in front of their home crowd. After being behind 7-2 in the third inning, Robinson Cano quickly erased a five run deficit on one swing as he hit a grand slam off Oakland A's pitcher Rich Harden. In the sixth inning, Russell Martin took Fautino de Los Santos yard for the second grand slam of the game as his ball barely cleared the right field wall. Martin's grand slam was his second home run of the day, and gave the Yankees the outright lead 10-6. Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and an eight run lead. Bruce Billings was on the mound adding to the A's misery as Granderson pulled a line drive over the right field wall to make it a historical day at the new Yankee Stadium. The Yankees became the first team in major league history to hit three grand slams in a game, on the way to a 22-9 win.

(#2) April 23, 1999 - Fernando Tatis hits 2 grand slams in one inning! St. Louis Cardinals vs LA Dodgers

In 1999, there was a guy name Fernando Tatis, batting cleanup for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was protecting Mark McGwire, who batted third at the time. Fernando faced Dodger pitcher, Chan Ho Park, who is known for giving up the long ball (ask any Texas Ranger fan). Heading into the top of the third inning with a 2-0 lead, little did Park know, this was going to be the longest inning of his career. He started the inning off by giving up two singles and he hit a man. Fernando came to the plate and drilled his first grand slam over the left field bullpen. Later that same inning the bases were loaded again, Chan Ho still on the mound, and guess who was up at the plate! Park threw a hanging slider and that was all she wrote. Fernando Tatis is the first, and only Major League ballplayer, to ever hit two grand slams and have eight RBIs in one inning.

(#1) July 25, 1956 - Roberto Clemente inside the park grand slam! Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs

Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates walked up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, down 8-5, with the bases loaded and no outs. At the mound stood Chicago Cubs reliever, Jim Brosnan, whose first pitch to Clemente, was smacked off the left field light tower at Forbes Field. As the bases were emptying full of Pirates, Clemente rounded third base, bypassing the stop sign from his third base coach, determined to score that winning run. He originally missed the plate on a routine slide but was savvy enough to touch the plate before Ernie Banks was able to make the tag. Pittsburgh won the game 9-8 in front of 12,000 happy fans. It was Roberto Clemente's first grand slam home run. He is the only player to hit a walk-off grand slam inside the park home run.

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