April 23, 1999: Fernando Tatis hits two grand slams in the same inning

Less than seven months after Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs to set a single-season home run record, Fernando Tatis set a home run mark that may never be broken.

A third-year player from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Tatis hit two grand slams off Chan Ho Park in the third inning of a 12-5 win over the Dodgers, becoming the first player in major league history to accomplish the feat.

“I just want to enjoy the moment,” Tatis said. “I can’t believe it. I know this will probably never happen again for me.”[1]

“The game’s been played 100 years and this is the first time,” La Russa said. “That was an electrifying moment in the dugout.”[2]

Only nine previous players had hit two grand slams in the same game, and it marked just the second time a pitcher had allowed two grand slams in the same inning. Pittsburgh’s Bill Phillips allowed two such blasts against the Cubs on August 16, 1890.[3]

Tatis’s eight RBIs in the inning broke the major-league record of six set by Matt Williams in 1997, and Tatis became the first Cardinal to hit two home runs in an inning.[4] The only other time the Cardinals hit two grand slams in the same game came in 1929, when Jim Bottomley and Chick Hafey accomplished the feat.

“You’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery,” said McGwire, who hit two homers in an inning with the Athletics, but only one of the blasts came with the bases loaded.[5]

The Cardinals had acquired Tatis the previous year as part of the trade that sent Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre to the Rangers. When the trade was made, Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said that Tatis was the best third baseman available on the market, and La Russa noted that Tatis had both a power bat and an above-average arm.

“He’s got the talent to become an impact-type third baseman,” La Russa said.[6]

He certainly made an impact against Park and the Dodgers.

Tatis originally was slated to bat fifth in the Cardinals’ lineup, but when Eric Davis was unavailable due to a hand injury, Tatis moved up to fourth in the Cardinals’ lineup.

The Dodgers entered the third inning with a 2-0 lead on sacrifice flies from Gary Sheffield and Todd Hundley.

After stranding three runners in the first two inning, Park couldn’t escape trouble in the third. Darren Bragg led off the inning with a single. Edgar Renteria walked and McGwire singled to load the bases for Tatis. Park missed with his first two pitches, drawing the count to 2-0, and Tatis didn’t miss when he swung at the third pitch, launching a fastball an estimated 450 feet to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.

It didn’t end there.

After J.D. Drew grounded out, Eli Marrero homered to left. Placido Polanco, pinch-hitting for David Howard, drew a walk. So did Joe McEwing. Cardinals pitcher Jose Jimenez laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the Dodgers couldn’t retire anyone, loading the bases. On the next play, Polanco scored on a ground ball when Eric Karros’s throw drew Hundley off the plate. Dodgers manager Davey Johnson came out to argue that Karros had kept his foot on the plate, but it was to no avail.

Edgar Renteria’s RBI single made the score made the score 7-2. Park retired McGwire for the second out of the inning, but that brought Tatis to the plate again with the bases loaded. This time, Tatis worked a full count before hitting a slider for his second home run of the game.

“I didn’t think I had enough explosion,” Tatis said. “I was not sure it was going to go. It just happened. I thought, ‘I’m going to fly.’ My mind is in other worlds right now.”[7]

A kid in the stands grabbed the home run ball, then sold the ball to another fan for $80. That fan gave the ball to Tatis after the game, along with the advice that he should donate it to the Hall of Fame.[8]

 With the score now 11-2, Johnson mercifully replaced Park with Carlos Perez, who retired J.D. Drew to end the inning.

In 2 2/3 innings, Park allowed 11 runs – six earned – on eight hits and three walks.

“Chan Ho pitched like he was pitching defensively,” Johnson said. “That was a different pitcher than I saw in spring training. He wasn’t going after guys.”[9]

Drew hit a solo home run in the sixth on the way to a 12-5 Cardinals win.

Jimenez pitched seven innings in the win, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and a walk. He struck out six and improved to 2-0 on the season. Manny Aybar allowed one run in the final two innings.

After the game, Tatis welcomed calls from family, friends, and members of the media in the Dominican Republic, where he instantly was hailed as a national hero.

“They were watching the game and they were having a party,” Tatis said.

“I think that’s what every baseball player is looking for – to be famous, to be in the Hall of Fame. You just want your name to get bigger and bigger every year.”[10]

The game marked the high point in the best season of Tatis’s career. He finished the season with a .298 batting average, 34 homers, 107 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. All were career highs.

The following year, a strained groin limited him to 96 games, and he finished the year batting .253 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs. It was his final season in St. Louis.

On December 14, 2000, the Cardinals traded Tatis and Britt Reames to the Expos for Dustin Hermanson and Steve Kline. Over three seasons with the Expos, Tatis was limited to just 208 games by a variety of injuries.

In 2004, Tatis joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but he did not make the team in spring training and spent the next two years in the Dominican Republic. He returned to baseball in 2006 and spent most of the year with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate. He played in 28 games for the Orioles, hitting two home runs in 56 at-bats.

Tatis spent the final four years of his career with the Mets organization. He spent the entire 2007 season with their Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs. Over the next three seasons, he appeared in 258 games for the Mets, totaling 21 homers and 101 RBIs.

He finished his major-league career with 113 homers and 448 RBIs over 11 seasons.


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Jason Reid, “In Grand Style – Twice,” Los Angeles Times, April 24 ,1999: Page D1.

[2] Rick Hummel, “It was grand night for Tatis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1999: Page F9.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Tatis hits two grand slams in third,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 24, 1999: Page 14OT.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Tatis hits two grand slams in third,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 24, 1999: Page 14OT.

[5] Rick Hummel, “It was grand night for Tatis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1999: Page F9.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Cardinals trade Stottlemyre, Clayton to Texas for pitcher, third baseman,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 1, 1998: Page 5OT.

[7] Rick Hummel, “It was grand night for Tatis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1999: Page F9.

[8] Rick Hummel, “It was grand night for Tatis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1999: Page F9.

[9] Jason Reid, “In Grand Style – Twice,” Los Angeles Times, April 24 ,1999: Page D11.

[10] Rick Hummel, “It was grand night for Tatis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 25, 1999: Page F9.

One thought on “April 23, 1999: Fernando Tatis hits two grand slams in the same inning

  1. Hard to believe its been 23 yrs. since Fernando had his historic amazing moment! Now his son is carrying on his legacy!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: