CINCINNATI — As baseball player/philosopher Tim Flannery once said to teammate Chris Welsh, “There are two kinds of baseball players — the ones who have been humbled and the ones who are about to be humbled.”
So was Scooter Gennett humbled when he walked into the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Wednesday and checked the lineup card.
After hitting four home runs Tuesday night, batting fifth in the order, he was batting seventh Wednesday night.
WHAT DOES A GUY have to do? At least he was in the lineup. He wasn’t even in Tuesday’s original lineup. Manager Bryan Price planned to rest Adam Duvall and wanted to get Patrick Kivlehan a start. And he planned to have Scott Schebler in right field. But when Schebler wasn’t quite ready to return from his strained left shoulder Price inserted Scooter into the lineup.
Price said, as a gag, he thought about hanging up a lineup card for Wednesday’s game, “With Scooter leading off, Scooter batting fourth and Scooter batting seventh and Scooter batting ninth. That would have been funny.”
The Cardinals would think it was one bit humorous.
And after Gennett hit his third home run Tuesday night, Price walked to home plate to report some lineup changes and umpire David Rackley smiled and said, “Who are you taking out, Scooter Gennett?” Not hardly.
“I actually thought about how I almost didn’t play Scooter in the dugout after he hit his third home run,” said Price. “I thought, ‘Man, this could have ended differently.’ I’d like to say it was great match-up managing, but it was just the circumstances.”
PRICE INSISTS HE PLANNED to play Gennett at second base Wednesday in place of Jose Peraza even before the four-homer explosion.
“And based on his recent performance I’d find a way to get him in there,” Price said with a laugh.
Of the 17 guys who have hit four home runs in one game, it is a safe bet that Gennett is the first non-regular, the first role player, the first fill-in.
He was a regular in Milwaukee before he was released and when he signed with the Reds it was made clear to him that he would not be a starter. That’s tough to take, especially going to a team that finished last two years in a row.
“It is more than admirable the way he accepts his role,” said Price. “He understood the environment, some place where he wasn’t going to be able to play his way into the starting lineup. It’s a tough situation. The guys already here were destined to play.
“There has never been any pushback from him on that,” said Price. “I didn’t know Scooter and how he would take it. He has been above and beyond my wildest expectations as far as being a great teammate. Beyond the performance, he has been a great teammate.”
GENNETT SAID HE SLEPT well, “A solid uninterrupted eight good hours,” and when he checked his phone he had 270 texts. “I’m glad my phone didn’t die because I still don’t really know how to get back home in Kentucky.”
He certainly knows how to get home on a baseball field.
AND TALK ABOUT humble? “I still know I have to get better, still have work to do, and I have to keep that mind-set.”
Asked about being dropped in the batting order, he laughed and said, “I’m just doing my job. It’s a crazy thing about baseball — you never know what can happen in a single day. That’s just one day and it is all about what are you going to do for me today? It is going to take some time to earn the right to not only be at the top of the lineup, but to be in the lineup. It’s a humbling sport.”
Just what Tim Flannery said.
As Price rehashed the historic night, he said, “Isn’t it great that we witness something like that and then the next day come in and talk about it, something people will talk about for a long, long time. I saw Mike Cameron hit four in one game (for Seattle) and it comes up five or six times a year. Now I have another story to share.”
THERE CAN’T BE MANY PEOPLE that can say they’ve seen two different major league baseball players hit four home runs in a game.
After all, it has happened only 17 times.
I bore witness Tuesday night to Scooter Gennett hitting four home runs that totaled 1,568 feet.
And it was my good fortune to see St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Mark ‘Hard-Hittin’ Whiten hit four against the Reds on September 7, 1993 in Riverfront Stadium.
Amazingly it was the second game of a doubleheader, after the Reds won the first game, 14-13. Only one home run was hit against the Reds and it wasn’t Whiten.
BUT IN GAME TWO WHITEN hit four home runs and drove in 12 runs, tying a major league record for RBI in a game that still stands. The Cardinals won, 15-2.
When Whiten hit his third home run, his second of the day off Mike Anderson, Reds relief pitcher Rob Dibble told a bullpen companion, “If I’m in there he isn’t going to hit one off me.”
Dibble pitched the ninth. Whiten homered deep into the right field seats. Like Gennett, Whiten’s first home run was a grand slam, hit off Reds starter Larry Luebbers in the first inning.
SOME FOUR-HOMER TRIVIA:
—Lou Gehrig is the only New York Yankee to do it — no Babe Ruth, no Joe DiMaggio, no Mickey Mantle, no Roger Maris.
—Dayton’s Mike Schmidt, Pat Seery and Chuck Klein did it in extra innings. Gennett did it in eight innings.
—Mike Cameron’s four were all with the bases empty.
—Ed Delahanty and Bob Horner hit four in a game, but their teams lost their games.
—Only five of the 17 are in the Hall of Fame — Lou Gehrig, Ed Delahanty, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Chuck Klein.
THE ’17’ FOUR-HOMER CLUB:
Bobby Lowe, May 30, 1894, Boston Beaneaters vs. Cincinnati Reds, 20–11.
Ed Delahanty, July 13, 1896, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Colts, 8-9.
Lou Gehrig, June 3, 1932, New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Athletics, 20–13.
Chuck Klein, July 10, 1936, Philadelphia Phillies vs.Pittsburgh Pirates, 9–6.
Pat Seerey, July 18, 1948, Chicago White Sox vs. Philadelphia Athletics, 12–11.
Gil Hodges, August 31, 1950, Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Boston Braves, 19–3.
Joe Adcock, July 31, 1954, Milwaukee Braves vs. Brooklyn Dodgers, 15–7.
Rocky Colavito, June 10, 1959, Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles, 11–8.
Willie Mays, April 30, 1961, San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Braves, 14–4.
Mike Schmidt, April 17, 1976, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, 18–16.
Bob Horner, July 6, 1986, Atlanta Braves vs. Montreal Expos, 8–11.
Mark Whiten, September 7, 1993, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds, 15–2.
Mike Cameron, May 2, 2002, Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox, 15–4.
Shawn Green, May 23, 2002, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 16–3.
Carlos Delgado, September 25, 2003, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10–8.
Josh Hamilton, May 8, 2012, Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles, 10–3.
Scooter Gennett, June 6, 2017, Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 13-1.