Arts and Leisure

The Inning the Boston Red Sox Held a Home Run Derby

Gene Mauch

Gene Mauch

No one was surprised when Ted Williams hit a home run against the Cleveland Indians on May 22, 1957, but when three of his teammates did too – in the same inning – now that was a surprise.

Even more surprising was that one of those hitters was second baseman Gene Mauch, who had a lifetime batting average of .239 and was in a slump.

Before the game, Red Sox Manager Pinky Higgins told Mauch he wanted 10 runs and airtight defense from the team. Mauch wasn’t so sure they could produce.

With one out in the fourth inning, the score tied at zero, Mauch came to the plate and hit a home run off Cleveland pitcher Calvin Coolidge McLish. In 13 previous seasons, he had hit only four.

(An interesting side note: McLish’s full name was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. He was the seventh of eighth children, and said the reason for his long name was that his father was given permission to name him after having no say in the previous six. His nickname was Bus. Another side note: Pinky Higgins given name was Michael and he hated the nickname Pinky.)

The next batter was Ted Williams, who would be the American League batting champion that year. You know what happened.

Dick Gernert

Dick Gernert. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Then Jackie Jensen, the right-field power hitter, kept his bat on his shoulder and walked.

First baseman Dick Gernert, a right-handed hitter, came to the plate next and did exactly what the Red Sox signed him to do: hit a home run over the Green Monster.

Then slick-fielding third baseman Frank Malzone stepped up and hit the ball into the left field net for one of his 102 RBIs of the season.

The Cleveland manager decided it was time to go to the bullpen.

The Red Sox had actually hit four home runs in an inning once before — in 1940, against the Philadelphia Athletics. The hitters that day were: Ted Williams, Jimmy Foxx, Joe Cronin and Jim Tabor.

The Red Sox scored 11 runs. And their defense was airtight. Final score: Boston 11, Cleveland 0.

That year, the Red Sox finished in third place behind the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.

Pinky Higgins and Ted Williams. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Pinky Higgins and Ted Williams. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

 

 

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