Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 1940: The Big Cat Hits Three Home Runs During an 8-8 Tie In Cincy

      On May 13, 1940, Johnny Mize hit three home runs in at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. It was the third time in his career he went yard three times in a ballgame. However, it was not enough to win the ballgame, as the two clubs played to an 8-8 tie  that was called after the 14th due to the setting sun. It was a rather odd game that started nearly 30 minutes late because there were no umpires on hand when the first pitch was supposed to be thrown.

     The reason behind the lack of umpires was the two teams had made arrangements to makeup a game that had been flooded out on April 23rd, but forgot to inform the league office of the arrangement. Therefore, the league office did not assign any umpires to officiate the contest. Luckily, an umpire by the name of Larry Goetz was enjoying a day off at his home in Cincinnati, which led to a phone call that had him rushing to the park to call the ballgame. Since Goetz could only handle the duties behind the dish each team had to lend a member to officiate the bags at first and third. The Reds sent coach Jimmie Wilson over to first base, while Cardinals hurler Lon Warneke handled the duties at third. They would all witness a historic contest, as Mize put three in the seats on the way to a tie.

     The game was a true seesaw battle. After six innings the two clubs were knotted at seven, as the pitchers were battered and abused. Mize started off his home run barrage in the second with a solo shot. He followed it up with a two run shot in the third. Then put the cherry on top with a solo shot in the thirteenth that gave the Redbirds a very temporary 8-7 lead, as pair of Bill's tied it right back up for Cincinnati in the bottom of the inning. Billy Werber started off the rally with a single, before pinch hitter Billy Hershberger doubled him in with a single. Werber had himself a day at the plate with five hits in six trips, which included four doubles and that made him the first man to accomplish that feat in both the American League and the National League. He had accomplished the feat as a member of the Yankees in 1935. Unfortunately, the umpire who had spent his day off calling balls and strikes, had to call it as the sun set in the Queen City, so neither Mize nor Werber could celebrate a victory. That would have to be saved for another day.

     Johnny Mize owns the record for three home run ballgames with six. Sammy Sosa equaled the feat with his sixth three home run contest in 2002, however, the record has not been surpassed. The last three home run contest for Mize came in 1950 when he was a member of the New York Yankees. Coincidentally, the club that Mize was playing for only won a single game of the six, which came in July of 1938 as he led the way to a 7-1 victory. His record of 1-4-1 when hitting three home run is rather astounding, but it does go to show that it takes a team to win a ballgame. I am sure that was something Johnny Mize knew all too well.

Check out the box score here:

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