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Don’t Knock the Rock…. He hit four-in-a-row!
On Tuesday, June 9, 1959, 46,601 watched the Baltimore Orioles beat the visiting Cleveland Indians, 7-3, at “spacious” Memorial Stadium as Orioles reliever Billy Loes got the win over Tribe starter Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant. That night, while Gene Woodling and Chico Carresquel hit home runs, Indians right fielder Rocky Colavito, batting fourth, went 0-3 for the 3rd-place Indians as the Orioles moved into a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox.
The next night however, was a night for the history books thanks to 25-year-old Rocco Domenico (Rocky) Colavito. (See newspaper coverage HERE front page – p. 33 – p. 34 – p. 36)
“Honest. I was just trying to meet the ball,” Colavito would later tell reporters after becoming only the eighth player in major league baseball history to hit four home runs in a game, and only the third hitting four consecutive homers, leading the Indians to an 11-8 win over the host Orioles before 15,833 who gave Rocky a standing ovation after the fourth blast.
Hitting homers in the third (off Jerry Walker), fifth (off Arnold Portocarrero), sixth (off Portocarrero), and ninth innings (off Ernie Johnson), when asked if he felt pressure in the ninth inning, Plain Dealer reporter Harry Jones noted Rocky told the reporters, “No, I wasn’t going for a fourth. I thought I had a pretty good night already, hitting three.”
Left fielder Minnie Minoso and 2nd baseman Billy Martin also homered for Cleveland giving starter Gary Bell (5-5), who struck out three, the win over Walker, moving the Indians to within a game and a half of the first place White Sox.
The next night, Cleveland moved into second place when Colavito’s 8th-inning double scored Woody Held from 1st base to give the Indians a 2-1 win. Striking out four, Don Ferrarese (5-3), pitched a seven-hit complete game for the victory over the Orioles’ Milt Pappas who took the loss. Center fielder Tito Francona (2-4), also doubled in the game.
Prior to Rocky’s impressive feat, on Friday, June 3, 1932, 5,000 saw Lou Gehrig become the second player in modern major league history to hit four straight as the first-place N. Y. Yankees beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 20-13, at Shibe Park. Babe Ruth (No. 15), Tony Lazzeri, and Earle Combs also homered to help starter Lefty Gomez get the win. In Detroit, the visiting Cleveland Indians moved into 4th place after beating the 3rd-place Tigers twice with Wes Ferrell and Mel Harder getting the wins. (See newspaper article HERE!)
On May 30, 1894, 8,000 watched the third-place Boston Beaneaters score nine 8th-inning runs to beat the visiting Cincinnati Reds, 13-10, in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second contest, Reds starter Ice Box Chamberlain was rocked for nineteen hits, including four consecutive home runs by Beaneaters second baseman Bobby Low who became the first modern major league player to hit four straight, as starter Kid Nichols, helped by nine third-inning runs, cruised to a 20-11 win.
The second-place Cleveland Spiders split a doubleheader that day with the host New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Eight thousand watched the sixth-place Giants capture the first Decoration Day contest, 2-1, as Giants starter Amos Rusie pitched an 11-inning, 3-hitter. Breaking attendance records that day, 24,500 saw Spiders right-hander John Clarkson pitch a four-hitter to win the afternoon contest, 3-2. (See newspaper article HERE!)
Following ‘The Rock,” only five more major league players, Mike Schmidt (April 17, 1976); Mike Cameron (May 2, 2002); Carlos Delgado (September 25, 2003); Scooter Gennett (June 6, 2017); and J. D. Martinez (September 4, 2017), have hit four consecutive Major League home runs.
FEATURING ROCKY IN MY MEMORIES BOOKS /
Below are pages from Municipal Stadium Memories on the Lakefront, (panels 1-4), and Memories of a Lifetime Vol. 1 (panels 5-6) featuring images of Rocky in uniform.
The first two panels below highlight GM Frank Lane’s controversial trade of Rocky to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn just before the 1960 Season Opener at Municipal Stadium, and Rocky hitting a home run against the Indians in a Tigers uniform the following day. The third panel features Rocky upon his return to Indians in 1965 holding a fruit basket with Frank Lane at Municipal Stadium before the Home Opener.
The first panel below shows Rocky on September 25, 1956 shaking hands with Tribe starter Early Wynn after hitting his 20th home run that season to help Wynn win his 20th game of the year. The middle panel shows Rocky with Roger Maris, and Gene Woodling during spring training in 1958; and Rocky in 1960 on the “Tribe Train” in Arizona with fellow teammates Jimmy Piersall, Bubba Phillips, Johnny Temple, Tito Francona, Vic Power, Woody Held, Russ Nixon, Gary Bell, and manager Joe Gordon shortly before the memorable trade.
The final panel above right shows Rocky on Picture Day at Municipal Stadium in 1967, a classic photograph shot by former Cleveland Press photographer Paul Tepley.
As a 66-year-old who watched Rocky play at Municipal Stadium, I’d love to see the next Indians “statue” depict Rocky sitting on a bench while holding a Rocky Colavito signed Louisville Slugger between his legs as he waited to bat.
The bench would have enough room on either side for fans to join ‘The Rock” on the bench as friends captured the classic scene. What do you think? See a how to get your own Rocky autographed Louisville Slugger in 1960 HERE!
Thanks, Rocky, George Cormack