500 HRC Members Created Their Own Fireworks on July 4th
Written by Jim Rednour
Saturday, 30 June 2007
Mickey Mantle was a true Yankee Doodle Dandy
The Fourth of July was a truly significant date for Mickey Mantle who, much like pyrotechnic experts, used the day as an annual occasion to launch explosive blasts over Yankee stadium. In 18 big-league seasons, Mantle hit a total of seven Independence Day home runs.
One of his most memorable came on July 4, 1960, when “The Mick” hit a three-run shot against Washington's Hal Woodeshick, to become the 18th player to hit 300 career home runs.
Two years later, Mantle's hit four home runs in consecutive at-bats from July 4-6th 1962, and went on to win his third Most Valuable Player Award with a league-leading batting average of .321.
On Independence Day 1964 he once again launched his own brand of fireworks when he ignited the crowd with a three-run homer in the 8th inning to help the Yanks best the Twins 7-5.
But his most impressive July 4th performance came in 1966 when he took to the launching pad (a.k.a. home plate) to hit two homers driving in three runs for his beloved Yankees.
“Say Hey” Kid Says it All With His Bat on July 4th
Although Willie Mays has the most July 4th home runs of any 500 Home Run Club members (with eight), his connection to America’s birthday began years before he catapulted to the major leagues when he made his professional debut in the Negro Leagues on July 4, 1948.
Another of his most memorable baseball achievements came on Independence Day 1961, when he hit home run #300 one year to the day after his fellow (eventual) 500 HR club inductee Mickey Mantle.
But Mays’ most memorable July 4th home run was the only run scored in a 16-inning pitchers’ dual that actually started on July 3, 1963. In the classic match up between two Hall of Famers; Braves Warren Spahn, who gave up nine hits in 15 1/3 innings, and the Giant’s Juan Marichal, who allowed eight hits in 16 innings and struck out 10, Willie Mays' round-tripper off Spahn in the bottom of the 16th [at 12:31 A.M. PST on July 4] gave Marichal a 1–0 win, and set a record for the National League's longest game ending with a walk-off home run. Both pitchers went the distance in one of the greatest matchups ever.
Big Mac’s Late Inning Fireworks
On July 4th 1988 Mark McGwire belted a 16th inning homer to give the A's a 4–2 win over Cleveland.
For St. Louis fans it was an amazing and memorable Deja vu experience, since “Big Mac” had done precisely the same thing one day earlier bring the A's from behind to win the game in the 16th inning.
Killer Inside-The-Park Fireworks
In the 8th inning of a game against the White Sox on July 4th 1961, Harmon Killebrew, nicknamed “The Killer,” hit his only career inside-the-park home run and the first one ever hit inside the Metrodome to give the Twins the lead and the eventual victory.
Three Times Around on the 4th of July
On July 4, 1948 500 HRC member Ted Williams batted against three different pitchers in the 7th inning, a first in American League history. Boston snapped a 5–5 tie by scoring 14 runs to beat the visiting Philadelphia Athletics, 20–8. Williams also made a rare appearance as a pitcher, facing three batters in the final innings of the blow out victory.
Barry Bonds has hit just three Independence Day dingers: in 1991 off the Cubs' Greg Maddux, in 1994 off the Mets' Mike Remlinger and in 2005 off the Padres' Jake Peavy.