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Wednesday, May 8
Useless information department

By Jayson Stark

Considering you can't even hit 60 home runs and lead your league anymore, we're not sure how we managed to go more than eight seasons without any player hitting four home runs in a game.

We just know that Sept. 7, 1993 -- which was the date of Mark Whiten's four homer-game -- was a long, long time ago. And we can demonstrate just how long ago it was, by presenting just some of the stuff that happened in between Whiten's four-homer game and Mike Cameron's:

  • Seventeen different pitchers threw no-hitters -- and Hideo Nomo (still a Kintetsu Buffalo in 1993) pitched two.

  • There were three 20-strikeout games (by Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson). There had been one before 1993.

  • Three pitchers (David Wells, David Cone, Kenny Rogers) threw perfect games -- not even including Pedro Martinez, who pitched nine perfect innings on June 3, 1995 before allowing a hit in the 10th.

  • Two men (named Bonds and McGwire) hit 70 home runs in a season.

  • There were four other 60-homer seasons, three of them just by Sammy Sosa, who had never even hit 30 when Whiten hit his four homers.

  • Twenty-six players hit for the cycle.

  • Ten players got six hits in a game.

  • Forty-nine teams hit 200 homers or more in a season. At the time Whiten hit his four homers, that had been done three times in the previous 20 seasons.

  • Roger Clemens won 20 games three times, and the other pitchers out there did it 22 other times.

  • There were two unassisted triple plays (by John Valentin and Randy Velarde).

  • The Marlins, then in their fifth month of existence, and the Diamondbacks, then still a gleam in Jerry Colangelo's eye, both won the World Series.

  • Randy Johnson struck out 2,401 hitters (five more than Sandy Koufax whiffed in his entire career).

  • Craig Biggio got 1,408 hits.

  • Sammy Sosa hit 394 homers (12 more than Jim Rice hit in his whole career).

  • Twelve new ballparks opened.

  • Todd Zeile homered for nine teams.

  • Mike Morgan won a game for seven teams.

  • John Grisham wrote 10 best-sellers.

  • "Frasier" won 15 Emmy awards.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average went from 3607 to 10091, with a brief journey above 11500 at one point in between.

  • And Bret Saberhagen spent 834 days on the disabled list, made 18 rehab starts in four different minor leagues ... and retired.

    But don't touch that mouse. The Mike Cameron four-homer hysteria continues ...

  • There were 100 three-homer games in between Whiten's four-homer game and Cameron's four-homer game And that, too, is a record. Here are the previous highs:

    73 -- Willie Mays 1961 to Mike Schmidt 1976
    52 -- Schmidt '76 to Bob Horner '86
    45 -- Horner '86 to Whiten '93
    28 -- Chuck Klein '36 to Pat Seerey '48
    26 -- Joe Adock '54 to Rocky Colavito '59

  • We don't know why four-homer games and no-hitters so often waltz together. But loyal reader Doug Greenwald reports that of the 14 four-homer games in history, four of them now have come in the same week as a no-hitter (how weird is that?):

    In 1961, a Warren Spahn no-hitter and a Willie Mays four-homer game occurred in the same series between the Giants and Braves.

    Darryl Kile pitched a no-hitter the day after Mark Whiten's four-homer game in 1993. (Jim Abbott had pitched one three days earlier).

    And even the first four-homer game of all time, by Bobby Lowe in 1894, was followed three days later by an Ed Stein six-inning no-hitter.

    Anybody got a theory on that? We'd love to hear it.

  • Not many people get to see one four-homer game, let alone two. But with the help of Doug Greenwald and the East Valley Tribune's Ed Price, we've come up with four men in some kind of uniform who were present for both Cameron's four-homer game and at least one other:

    Mariners catcher Dan Wilson had the night off for Cameron's show, but he was the catcher for the Reds when Whiten hit four homers against them. Mariners hitting coach Gerald Perry was a teammate of Whiten in '93.

    Wallace Johnson was the third-base coach for the White Sox last Wednesday and a teammate of Bob Horner when he hit four homers in 1986. And Larry Poncino, who was umpiring at third base for Cameron, was the plate ump the night Whiten hit four.

  • Another amazing subplot in Cameron's game was that two teammates (he and Bret Boone) combined for six homers. The Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, reports that's the fourth time that has happened:

    On April 30, 1961, Willie Mays hit four and Jose Pagan hit two -- while Hank Aaron was hitting two for the other team. On July 31, 1954, Joe Adcock hit four and Eddie Mathews hit two. And last Sept. 25, Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz of the Brewers each hit three.

  • But believe it or not, Boone wound up with fewer hits in Cameron's four-homer game than his father, Bob, did the day one of his teammates -- Schmidt -- had a four-homer game. Bret's line: 4-2-2-4, 2 HR, 2 BB. Bob's line 6-1-3-1, 1 HR, 1 double.

  • Meanwhile, that Mays-Aaron game was one of three instances in which a guy hit four homers on the same day a player on the opposing team hit two. The others:

    Mike Schmidt (4), Rick Monday (2) on April 17, 1976.
    Bobby Lowe (4) and the immortal Bug Holliday (2) on May 30, 1894.

  • At age 29 years and 4 months, Cameron actually is the third-oldest player ever to hit four in a game. Chuck Klein (31) was the oldest. Willie Mays (6 days away from 30) was next. The youngest: Pat Seerey (25 years, 135 days), just edging Rocky Colavito (25 years, 304 days) and Bobby Lowe (25 years, 324 days).

  • Lee Sinins, of baseball-encyclopedia.com, reports that the only three players to go on to lead their league in homers (or tie for the league lead) were Mike Schmidt, Colavito (tie) and Ed Delahanty (tie). Here is where the rest finished:

    2nd -- Willie Mays
    T-2nd -- Bobby Lowe
    T-3rd -- Chuck Klein, Gil Hodges
    4th -- Lou Gehrig
    T-5th -- Bob Horner
    9th -- Pat Seerey
    Did not rank in the top 10 -- Joe Adcock, Mark Whiten

  • Lee Sinins also reports that Cameron joined Bobby Lowe as the only men ever to hit two homers in an inning during their four-homer games. The list of players to hit two in an inning during a three-homer game:

    Andy Seminick, June 2, 1949
    Al Kaline, April 17, 1955
    Cliff Johnson, June 30, 1977
    Andre Dawson, Sept. 24, 1985
    Jeff Bagwell, June 24, 1994

  • No city has hosted more four-homer games than Chicago. This was the third time it has happened in Chicago -- in three different parks: New Comiskey Park (Cameron), Wrigley Field (Mike Schmidt) and West Side Park (Ed Delahanty).

  • The Seattle Times' Larry Stone reports that Whiten was the only switch-hitter, Klein and Gehrig the only left-handed hitters, Whiten the only one to hit a grand slam, and Delahanty and Horner the only ones to do it in losing games.

  • Then there's the Jim Parque angle. He became the first relief pitcher ever to serve up three homers to a four-homer man. He became the fifth pitcher of any size or shape to give up three or more homers in a four-homer game. The others, courtesy of the Sultan:

    Adonis Terry (all four to Delahanty)
    Elton Chamberlin (all four to Bobby Lowe)
    George Earnshaw (first three to Lou Gehrig in 1932)
    Andy McGaffigan (first three to Horner)

  • There must be something in a name, if Parque could give up three to Cameron after near-namesake Chan Ho (Out of the) Park achieved all these out-of-park-type feats:

    Chan Ho once allowed two grand slams in one inning to Fernando Tatis, gave up Barry Bonds' 71st and 72nd homers last year and was the victim for Cal Ripken grand finale All-Star Game home run.

    Call us crazy (you wouldn't be the first), but we notice this stuff.

    More Useless Info ...

  • Speaking of home runs, the Royals were still trailing Sammy Sosa in homers, 13-12, as late as Saturday. So that gives them a shot to become the first club to be outhomered by the major-league home run champ since Ralph Kiner outtrotted the 1949 White Sox, 54-43.

    The Royals were the first team to be looking up at the home run leader 35 days into a season since the '98 Mets trailed Vinny Castilla, 14-13, after the 36th day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

    Before that, the '94 Pirates needed seven weeks to catch Ken Griffey Jr., who led them as late as Day 48, 18-17.

    Since Kiner, the closest any team has come to trailing for a whole season was the 1979 Astros. They were still behind Dave Kingman, 47-46, on Day 170 (Sept. 23) -- but rallied to pass him in the last two weeks, 49-48.

  • The Royals also found themselves on another dubious historical list this week. By losing their first six games after John Mizerock took over as interim manager, the Royals became the first team to lose that many games in a row after a midseason change in the manager's office since the 1988 Orioles lost their first 15 under Frank Robinson.

    Robinson is the record holder, according to Elias. The second-highest total belongs to Dick Williams, who lost 10 straight after taking over the Angels on July 1, 1974.

  • On the other hand, the Rockies won their first six under Clint Hurdle. And Elias reports only five managers ever went on a better run than that after taking over in midseason:

    12, Joe Morgan, Boston -- 7/1988
    11, Fred Haney, Milwaukee -- 6/1958
    10, Dave Garcia, Cleveland -- 7/1979
    7, Jeff Torborg, Cleveland -- 6/1977
    7, Steve O'Neill, Boston -- 6/1950

    The group at six: Hurdle, Earl Weaver (1968 Orioles), Billy Southworth (1940 Browns) and Frankie Frisch (1933 Browns).

  • You shouldn't need a Spanish translator to know the significance of Omar Vizquel getting five hits on Cinco de Mayo (5/5 in your checkbook). He's the first man to get five hits on a day when fives are wild since his esteemed teammate, Einar Diaz, did it on May 5, 2000. They're the only two men to join the Cincofest since 1985, when Cal Ripken went 5-for-6 against the Twins.

    Cinco de Mayo fans also no doubt noted that the Reds and Giants were tied after regulation, 5-5, that day -- and that Toronto starter Luke Prokopec got just five outs

  • It isn't easy to win 10 games in a row in April and have a losing record by the first week of May. But that happened to the Indians before they won three in a row this week to get back to .500.

    Only six teams in history won 10 in a row or more in the first 30 games of any season and still went on to finish with a losing record, according to Elias:

    1985 Minnesota Twins (10 straight), finished 77-85
    1970 Atlanta Braves (11 straight), finished 76-86
    1965 Houston Astros (10 straight), finished 65-97
    1942 Cleveland Indians (13 straight), finished 75-79
    1941 Cleveland Indians (11 straight), finished 75-79
    1892 Chicago Colts (13 straight), finished 70-76

  • And before we leave the subject of streaks, those Devil Rays had themselves a streak last week you wouldn't wish on anybody. They lost three straight games they led with two outs in the ninth inning.

    It took some intense research. But Elias deternined they were only the fifth team ever to lose three games in a row after entering the ninth inning with a lead -- and the first American League team to do it since (gulp) Red Faber's 1929 White Sox, of the pre-closer era. The other teams to do it:

    1990 Cardinals, June 13-15
    1929 White Sox, Sept. 25-29
    1925 Browns, Aug. 27-29
    1905 Senators, June 8-10
    1883 Browns, July 30-Aug. 3

  • Through Monday, the Devil Rays had been outscored 21-0 in the ninth inning this year. Last time they scored in the ninth: last Sept. 30 (38 games ago), when they scored on an error against the Blue Jays (then lost in extra innings).

  • The Devil Rays also took part in another amazing lead-squandering event last Thursday, when two teams (the Devil Rays and Cardinals) blew 6-0 leads on the same day. Last time that happened, according to Elias:

    July 3, 1999, when Jay Witasick, Alvin Morman and the Royals couldn't hold a 6-0 lead in Cleveland, and Aaron Sele and the Texas bullpen couldn't hang onto a 6-0 lead against the Mariners.

  • Last weekend, five pitchers took no-hitters into the seventh inning -- and, as you'll no doubt recall, one of them (Derek Lowe) made it through all nine innings. But our Johnny Vander Meer Watch Dept. reports that nobody had to sweat out any no-hit bids the next time out.

    Here's how long it took those five to give up a hit in their next start:

    Derek Lowe -- fourth batter (Steve Cox) singled.
    Ted Lilly -- gave up more hits to the first two hitters (two) than he had in a complete game against the same team (Seattle) six days earlier (one).
    Pedro Astacio -- third batter (Jeff Bagwell) hit a home run.
    Shawn Estes -- fourth batter (Greg Colbrunn) doubled.
    Odalis Perez -- eighth batter (Jason LaRue) singled.

  • Meanwhile, Lowe became only the fifth pitcher since 1990 to face the same team he'd just no-hit in his next start. He was the first to get a no-decision. Tommy Greene (Montreal, 1991) and Hideo Nomo (Baltimore, 2001) won. Nolan Ryan (Toronto, 1991) and Scott Erickson (Milwaukee, 1994) lost.

  • Through Sunday, Barry Bonds had 40 walks this year -- but only five strikeouts. Well, we know what you're thinking. You're wondering who the last player was to have eight times as many walks as strikeouts over a full season (minimum: 100 walks).

    And the answer is: Since strikeouts started being recorded officially in 1910, that has never been done. The best single-season ratios ever, according to Lee Sinins' sabermetric encyclopedia:

    Player             Year    SO   BB   Ratio
    Elmer Valo         1952    16  101    6.31
    Johnny Evers       1910    18  108    6.00
    Charlie Gehringer  1940    17  101    5.94
    Arky Vaughan       1936    21  118    5.62
    Ted Williams       1941    27  145    5.37
    Charlie Gehringer  1938    21  112    5.33
    Johnny Pesky       1949    19  100    5.26
    Ferris Fain        1950    26  133    5.12
    Luke Appling       1949    24  121    5.04

  • If Bonds doesn't crack that group, he also could attempt to become the first player with 100 more walks than strikeouts since Ted Williams (136-32 in 1954). Since Williams retired, only 11 times has a player even finished a season with at least 100 walks and under 50 strikeouts:
    Player            Year   SO    BB
    Wade Boggs        1988   34   125   
    Mike Hargrove     1980   36   111
    Joe Morgan        1976   41   114
    Joe Morgan        1972   44   115   
    Wade Boggs        1986   44   105   
    Willie Randolph   1980   45   119
    Mike Hargrove     1978   47   107   
    Carl Yastrzemski  1974   48   104   
    Wade Boggs        1987   48   105   
    George Brett      1985   49   103   
    Alvin Davis       1989   49   101

  • An incredible thing happened Monday in Phoenix: a left-handed hitter (Brian Giles) hit a home run off Randy Johnson. You know you don't see that much. The East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports it was only the 13th homer the Unit has ever given up to a left-handed hitter. And here they are, all 13:

    1989: Von Hayes, Jim Eisenreich
    1991: Wally Joyner, Mike Greenwell
    1992: Mo Vaughn
    1996: Darren Bragg
    1997: Darin Erstad, Vaughn, Jim Edmonds (2)
    1999: John Olerud (postseason)
    2001: Larry Walker
    2002: Brian Giles

    But that's not all ...

    Johnson hadn't allowed a homer to a left-handed hitter in over a year (since Walker hit one on April 13, 2001.And the Unit had served up only three to left-handers (two in the regular season) in the last five years.

    Meanwhile, Giles had been 1-for-17 (.059) against Johnson in his career. He'd gone 63 straight trips to the plate without homering off anybody. And he hadn't hit a home run off a left-hander since his walkoff game-winning slam off Billy Wagner last July 28.

    Oh. And of course, the Pirates had hit one home run all year off a left-handed pitcher before that (Kevin Young off Shawn Estes), in over 200 at-bats.

  • But then it's May. And in April, Johnson was pitcher of the month. So what else is new? Since the Unit arrived in the National League at the 1998 trading deadline, he's now won five of the 21 NL pitcher-of-the-month awards handed out since then.

  • Barry Bonds didn't just become the first player to hit 400 home runs with one team and 100 with another last weekend. Lee Sinins reports he also became the third player ever to hit 400 homers with a team he didn't start his career with. You've heard of the others -- Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa.

  • Reader Randy Karraker watched Jason Simontacchi win his big-league debut for the Cardinals last weekend, in a game saved by Jason Isringhausen, and posed the following question:

    Has there ever been a win/save combination with more letters than Simontacchi and Isringhausen? If you're a long-name devotee and know the answer to that question, let us know by emailing my friendly editor at david.schoenfield@espn.com.

  • Speaking of names, our buddy Jeff Scott, the brilliant writer for MLB Productions, reports that all six Rockies-Phillies games this year featured not just "Oh say can you see" but "Jose can you save?" They all were saved by Jose (the first three by Jose Jimenez, the next three by Jose Mesa).

  • And elsewhere in our name-of-the-game files, watch out for the Frank Perezes. Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler noticed two of them pitched in a Reading-Erie game in the Eastern League over the weekend (one for each team).

  • The Tigers managed to go 10-9 in their first 19 games after that 0-11 start, even though they're now up to $26.4175 million worth of players on the disabled list. As Tigers beat wiz Danny Knobler observes, that's only about $3.5 million less than the salary of the players on their active list.

  • Loyal reader Doug Greenwald asks if it would be safe to conclude we just finished one of the craziest weeks in baseball history, considering it included:

    A no-hitter (by Derek Lowe). A pinch-hit, ninth-inning, two-out, game-winning grand slam (by Shea Hillenbrand). A four-homer game (by Mike Cameron). Two players hitting back-to-back homers twice in one inning (Cameron and Bret Boone). The Diamondbacks hitting back-to-back-to-back homers twice. And the Devil Rays blowing three straight leads with two outs in the ninth inning.

    So the correct answer is: Absolutely. But wait. It gets crazier, thanks to a minor-league game in Peoria, Ill., Friday.

    Peoria Chiefs left-hander Tyler Johnson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Michigan -- only to have it broken up by the dinkiest hit in the books: Michigan's Brooks Conrad hit a groundball that hit teammate Kerry Hodges (who had walked), who was running to second.

    So Hodges was called out, and the inning was over. But the rules say Conrad had to get credit for a single. It was the only hit Johnson gave up. But unless he can find some way to challenge that rule in court, it still goes down as one of the goofiest one-hitters ever.

    The Sultan's Corner

  • Manny Ramirez's first nine home runs this season came in nine different innings -- and you would think that would be almost impossible. But the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR'S David Vincent, reports Ramirez is actually the 18th player since 1900 to hit his first nine homers in nine different innings (and the ninth to hit them in innings one through nine). The 10 most recent (and the innings):
    Alex Gonzalez, 2001:     1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10
    Frank Catalanotto, 2001: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Mike Piazza, 2000:       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 12
    Willie Greene, 1996:     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Kevin Mitchell, 1994:    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10
    Andre Dawson, 1990:      1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11
    Von Hayes, 1989:         1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Mike Young, 1987:        2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12
    Ruppert Jones, 1985:     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Roy Smalley, 1980:       1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 12

  • So we couldn't help but wonder: What's the record for most different innings in which a player hit a home run in one season. And the answer, courtesy of the Sultan, is ... 12. The players who did it:

    Lou Gehrig, 1935
    Ernie Banks, 1955
    Willie Mays, 1955
    Willie Stargell, 1966
    Rafael Palmeiro, 1998
    Lance Berkman, 2001

  • The Diamondbacks just hit back-to-back-to-back homers twice in a week -- both times in a game started by Curt Schilling. The Sultan reports that that makes Schilling only the second pitcher in history to have that happen in consecutive starts.

    The other: Phil Niekro (May 29 and June 3, 1984, as a Yankee). The only other pitcher ever to start two games in one season in which his team hit back-to-back-to-backers was Fergie Jenkins, with the 1977 Red Sox.

  • Sammy Sosa hit four home runs in 24 hours last week (two Wednesday night, two Thursday afternoon). Thanks to Mike Cameron, nobody in Chicago noticed. But according to the Sultan, Sosa was the first man to have two multihomer games within 24 hours since John Jaha did it for the A's on June 19 and 20, 1999.

  • Finally, if Lance Berkman should wind up leading the league in homers, he'll join a very short list of switch-hitters who pulled that off. Here's the whole group, courtesy of the Sultan:

    Walt Wilmot, 1890 NL (tied)
    Duke Farrell, 1891 AA
    Ripper Collins, 1934 NL (tied)
    Mickey Mantle, 1955 AL
    Mickey Mantle, 1956 AL (led majors)
    Mickey Mantle, 1958 AL
    Mickey Mantle, 1960 AL
    Eddie Murray, 1981 AL (tied)
    Howard Johnson, 1991 NL

    So the only two to do it in the National League since 1900 are Ripper Collins and Howard Johnson. What a group.

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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