10th anniversary: Carlos Delgado’s four-homer gameby Chris Jaffe
September 25, 2013
Ten years ago today, veteran slugger Carlos Delgado had the game of his life. On Sept. 25, 2003, Delgado became just the 15th player to hit four home runs in one game.
On that date, Delgado’s Blue Jays were playing out their string of a season in which they had done okay, though they were not going to the playoffs. The Blue Jays were going to host Tampa Bay, the division’s perennial cellar dweller.
Only 13,408 diehard fans came out to the SkyDome that night, but Delgado would provide them with some treats.
The fun began in the bottom of the first. Tampa starting pitcher Jorge Sosa had one out when he allowed a single to DH Frank Catalanotto and then walked a young Vernon Wells. Up came Delgado. After swinging and missing at the first offering, Delgado’s aim was true on the second pitch. Gone. Just like that, Toronto had a 3-0 lead behind Delgado’s three-run homer.
That wasn’t too surprising. Delgado was always a good power hitter, and this was his year to drive in runs. He’d end the season with 145 RBIs, nearly 30 more than anyone else in the American League.
The game trudged on, and little had changed heading into the bottom of the fourth. Toronto now was up 3-1 when Delgado led off the frame for Toronto. For the second time, he took a Sosa pitch deep, and it was 4-1.
This was vintage Delgado. He wasn’t just a slugger, but a streaky slugger. He’d already had four different three-homer games in his career. Hank Aaron, with all his power, had just one. Delgado would end his career with 49 multi-homer games, so he knew how to bunch up his big shots.
Tampa rallied, and in the top of the sixth took a lead, 6-5. The bad news for them was that Delgado was leading off the bottom of the sixth. The Toronto first baseman greeted new Tampa pitcher Joe Kennedy rather rudely, sending one of his pitches into the stands for a game-tying solo home run.
Both teams scored a run in the seventh, and then Tampa Bay scored again in the top of the eighth for an 8-7 lead. But again, the worst possible news greeted them in the bottom of the eighth: Delgado was scheduled to lead off.
Sure enough, Delgado did his magic once again. Facing another new reliever—Lance Carter this time—Delgado made his bit of history by smashing a fourth home run ball of the game. The only good news for Tampa is that Delgado had led off three times, so could only drive in himself. (But it made no difference, as Toronto scored two more runs in the eighth for a 10-8 triumph.)
At the time, it looked like four-homer games were becoming a trend. The year before two players—Mike Cameron and Shawn Green—had done it, so Delgado made three in short order. But it would be nine more years until it happened again, when Josh Hamilton did it in 2012. It hasn’t happened since.
So it really was a great accomplishment by Carlos Delgado, and he achieved it 10 years ago today.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.