Four Homers Heat Up Cold Day in Chicago
On a frigid April 17th afternoon in 1976, with the wind
whistling out of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Mike Schmidt led his beloved Phillies
to one of the most improvable victories in MLB history, with four home
runs. He also became the first
National Leaguer to hit four homers in a row.
What started out on paper as a pitcher’s duel between
Steve Carlton and Rick Reuschel turned into a slugfest, with three homers for
the Cubs and six homers by the Phillies, four of which were hit by “Iron
Mike.” Schmidt hit one homer off
Mike Garman, two off Rick Reuschel, and the last, a 2-run homer, off Rick's
brother, Paul in the 10th.
Schmidt Smacks 500th in April
Mike Schmidt was the personification of talent at the hot
corner, possessing a combination of raw power, batting skill and defensive
finesse. His brute strength enabled him to lead the league in homer eight
times, and rack up more than 500 career home runs.
His 500th home run came on April 18th, 1987 to clinch a
win against rival Pittsburgh. The
Phillies had a comfortable 5-0 lead over the Pirates, but Pittsburgh rallied
for six runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead.
In the ninth, Juan Samuel kept the game alive for the
Phillies with a hard slide into second base to break up a potential a
game-ending double play. After a walk to Von Hayes, the Phils had two on and
two out, and Schmidt came to the plate looking for his 500th homer and a chance
to win the game.
Pirates reliever Don Robinson fell behind 3-0. Schmidt
pounded the next pitch over the wall in left for No. 500 and an 8-6 Phillies
victory. After the game, Schmidt told reporters the homer was "the
greatest thrill of my lifetime."