A Unique Place in MLB History – Well, That Didn’t Last Long

With the post-season nearly at a close, it’s time for the next Baseball Roundtable Facebook (fan) Page Bobblehead Giveaway – as well as a bit of MLB trivia to pass the time until tonight’s Game Five first pitch.  Note:  So far this season, BBRT has given away Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Harmon Killebrew and Miguel Sano “bobblers.” Check the end of this post for the next pair of giveaways.

At the conclusion of the 2008 MLB season, there had been 241 instances of MLB switch hitters bashing home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Yet, in more than 130 years of MLB history (1876-2008), no player had ever accomplished the feat on Opening Day.

The "one and only" - at least for an inning - Felipe Lopez.

The “one and only” – at least for an inning – Felipe Lopez.

Then, on Opening Day (April 6) 2009, as the Diamondbacks faced off against the Rockies in Arizona, Diamondbacks’ second baseman and leadoff hitter Felipe Lopez opened the bottom of the first with a home run to left (hit left-handed) on a 1-1 pitch off right-handed Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook – starting Lopez’ season with a bang and giving the D-backs an early 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Lopez found himself again leading off an inning – this time with Arizona trailing 6-4.  Lopez was facing southpaw reliever Glendon Rusch. Batting from the right-side, Lopez took a 1-0 Rusch offering deep to center field, becoming the first MLB player to homer from both sides of the plate on Opening Day – a feat more than 100 seasons in the making.

How long did Lopez hold his unique position in the MLB record books? Final Answer – just one inning. In the bottom of the third, the D-backs’ switch-hitting first baseman Tony Clark had hammered a two-run homer to right-center off Cook. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Clark (like Lopez) came up against lefty Rusch – with the bases empty, one out and the score knotted at seven apiece. Clark took Rusch out of the park to center (a 1-1 pitch), joining Lopez as one of just TWO players to homer from both sides of the plate in an Opening Day game.  Somewhat ironically, Lopez and Clark would hit a combined total of only 13 home runs in 2009 – and, by the end of July, neither player would be on the Diamondbacks’ roster – Lopez traded to the Brewers and Clark released. (Oh yes, the D-backs won that Opening day contest 9-8.)

Note: Lopez ended the 2009 season with a .310-9-57 stat line; while Clark finished the year at .182-4-11. 

Yasmani grandal photo

Photo by apardavila

For those who track such things, a third player has since belted home runs from both sides of the plate on Opening Day. On April 3 of this season, as the Dodgers opened the season by trouncing the Padres 14-3, LA catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run (left-handed) off Padres’ starter Jhoulys Chacin in the bottom of the third and a solo shot (right-handed) off southpaw Jose Torres in the eighth. Grandal ended the season at .247-22-58.  It was the third time Grandal homered from both sides of the plate in a game in his career.

 

 

 

Some additi0nal facts about hitting home runs from both sides of the plate:

  • The first recorded instance of an MLB player homering from both sides of the plate in one game goes to Philadelphia Athletics’ outfielder Wally Schange in an Athletics’ 8-2 victory over the Yankees on September 8, 1916.
  • Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher share the record for most games with home runs from both sides of the plate at 14.
  • Nine players achieved the feat of homering from both sides of the plate in a game in 2017 – with the Indians’ Jose Ramirtez and Carlos Santana accomplishing the feat a combined five times:   Freddy Galvis (Phillies); Marwin Gonzalez (Astros); Yasmani Grandal (Dodgers);  Aaron Hicks (Yankees); Francisco Lindor (Indians); Kendrys Morales (Blue Jays); Jorge Polanco (Twins); Jose Ramirez (Indians), three times; Carlos Santana (Indians) twice.
  • The record for hitting home runs from both sides of the plate in a game in a season is four – Ken Caminiti (Padres, 1996).
  • Three players have hit home runs from both sides of the plate in a single inning: Carlos Baerga (Indians – April 8, 1993); Mark Bellhorn (Cubs – August 29, 2002); Kendrys Morales (Angels – July 30, 2012).
  • 1996 saw an MLB-record 15 instances of a player homering from the both sides of the plate in a game:  Roberto Alomar (Orioles) twice; Ken Caminiti (Padres) four times; Raul Casanova (Tigers) twice; Chili Davis (Angels); Todd Hundley (Mets) twice; Melvin Nieves (Tigers); Ruben Sierra (Yankees);  J.T. Snow (Angels); Bernie Williams (Yankees).
  • Two players have homered from both sides of the plate in a game with five different teams: Carlos Beltran (Mets, Cardinals, Royals, Astros, Yankees); Nick Swisher (A’s, Yankees, White Sox, Indians, Braves).

Primary Resources: Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com; ESPN.com; Society for American Baseball Research.

NIck Swisher photo

NICK SWISHER … ironic name for a player who earned a spot in the record books on the basis of home run power.  Photo by Keith Allison

                                        BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE FACEBOOK BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY

TorreIt’s time for another BBRT Facebook bobblehead giveaway.  So far this season, we’ve given away bobbleheads of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Harmon Killebrew and Miguel Sano.  This time it’s the Hormel/Land O Lakes bobbleheads of Roger Clemens and Joe Torre.  We’ll select a random winner from those who Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page … click here to reach the page.  The drawing will take place shortly after the World Series concludes.

 

 

 

 

 

I tweet baseball@DavidBBRT

Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook Page, here.

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

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