June 10, 1959 – Rocky Colavito 4 Home Run Game
Rocky Colavito came in to Game 51 of the 1959 campaign in a 3 for 28 slump. The beloved slugger was looking to get right and keep the Indians alive in the standings, as they were currently in a three-way pennant chase with the Yankees and White Sox.
The Indians offense jumped on the Orioles’ Jerry Walker early. After retiring the first two batters, Walker gave up a single to Tito Francona and then walked Colavito. Indians left fielder Minnie Minoso drove a three-run home run to deep left field.
Baltimore manufactured one run in the bottom of the first off a Gus Triandos sacrifice fly, but the Indians countered with a solo home run by Billy Martin in the top of the second. In the bottom of the second, the Orioles pulled within one run after Al Pilarcik recorded a two-RBI single with two outs.
In the top of the third, Colavito saw his second plate appearance and chased Walker from the game with a two-run home run.
Two innings later he took Arnie Portocarrero deep for a solo home run to extend the Indians lead to 7-3.
In the top of the 6th, Francona doubled in Woodie Held and then was driven in by Colavito’s third home run of the game.
The Orioles continued to hang around, bouncing Bell from the game with a four-run 7th inning, including a bases-clearing double by Billy Klaus.
In the top of the 9th, Colavito crushed an inside fastball from Ernie Johnson and sent his fourth home run of the night over the right field wall, becoming only the 8th MLBer to date to hit four home runs in a game. The Baltimore crowd honored him with a standing ovation.
Colavito later recounted an exchange with Herb Score before heading to the on-deck circle prior to that at bat: “My roomie Herb Score is sitting on a ledge. I’m getting my bat, and he says ‘C’mon, roomie, don’t fool around and hit number four.’ I said ‘Roomie, I’m 3 for 28. If I get a single I’ll be tickled to death. He said ‘(BS) go up there and do it.’ I said ‘Yeah, right,’ and went on deck.”
It would be forty-three years before another American League hitter repeated the feat–Mike Cameron did it for the Mariners in 2002. Eighteen hitters have had four-home run games to date, the most recent was J. D. Martinez for the Diamondbacks in 2017.
After the 1959 season, GM Frank “Trader” Lane dealt Colavito to the Tigers. The Indians then went 33 seasons without finishing the season within 11 games of first place.
Honorable Mention: June 27, 2003 Omar Steals Home
Honorable Mention: May 27, 2018 – 5-run comeback in 9th, Alonso tying HR in 13th, Allen winning HR in 14th
I took my 2-year old son to this Sunday afternoon game. He tapped out after about 7 innings and fell asleep on the bus ride home. I fell asleep on the couch in the 11th, and woke up to Tom Hamilton calling Greg Allen’s walkoff home run.