Batters who hit 2 'play-on' homers in a game

Two days ago, I published a FanPost about what I called "play-on" home runs -- homers that kept games going by tying the score in the bottom of the ninth inning or later.

Since 1876, the Cubs have hit 94 of them -- less than half their 191 walk-off homers -- including 7 by Ron Santo and 5 each by Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.

Two of Sandberg's, the post said, came "memorably, in the same game, against the Cardinals on June 23, 1984. Both came off ex-Cub and future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, with the bases empty in the ninth and 1 on in the 10th."

Constant reader Ernaga posted this comment:

"Any idea who, other than Sandberg, may have hit two play-ons in a single game?"



The post mentioned the only other Cub who did it: Santo, on June 27, 1973.

He homered with nobody on in the ninth inning to tie the Expos, then did the same in the 13th.

Santo's second homer actually came the next day, as the game was suspended in the top of the 13th and completed the next afternoon, prior to the scheduled game. The Cubs ultimately lost, 4-5, in 18 innings.

They won the 1984 game against the Cardinals. Leon Durham led off the 11th with a walk, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher. After 2 intentional walks, pinch hitter Dave Owen singled to give the Cubs a 12-11 victory.

Remarkably, the 29 other teams combined have had only 3 players hit a pair of play-on homers in a game.



The first to perform the feat was Ripper Collins of the Cardinals, on May 1, 1934.

He led off the ninth inning against the Reds with a game-tying homer off Si Johnson, who earlier had walked him, hit him with a pitch and struck him out.

After the Reds scored a run in the top of the 11th, Collins opened the bottom half by homering again, also off Johnson. A double, a bunt and a single then gave the Cardinals a 3-2 victory.


Collins led the National League in homers in 1934, with 35. In 6 seasons with the Cardinals, he smacked 106 homers and batted .307/.370/.517, for an OPS of .852 and an OPS+ of 134.

Then he was traded to the Cubs and in 2 seasons homered 29 times while slashing .271/.337/.430, for .767 and 105.



No one duplicated Collins' 2 play-ons until Art Shamsky, on Aug. 12, 1966.

The Pirates and host Reds combined to hit 11 home runs that night at Crosley Field, including a 2-run drive by Shamsky in the eighth that put the Reds in front, 8-7.

Jerry Lynch of the Pirates delivered a solo shot to tie the score in the ninth and teammate Willie Stargell did the same in the 10th. Shamsky pulled the Reds even with a 1-out blast in the bottom half off Roy Face.

In the 11th, the Pirates tallied twice on a 2-out double by Bob Bailey. The first 2 Reds made outs, but Face walked the next batter and left the game. Shamsky kept the Reds alive by homering off Billy O'Dell.

After a scoreless 12th, the Pirates scored 3 times in the 13th and held on to win, 14-11.


Shamsky hit 21 homers that season, in only 271 trips to the plate. He finished his 8-year career with 68, in 1,913 trips, including 19 for the Cubs in 1972, at age 30. He went 2 for 16, with both hits singles.



In the 38 years since Sandberg's homers against the Cardinals, the only player to join the 2 Play-on Club is Roberto Alomar of the Blue Jays. He became the first American League member on May 10, 1991.

And he did it by homering from each side the plate.

The White Sox got a 2-run home from Frank Thomas in the top of the first. In the bottom, Alomar singled and scored on a 2-out grounder.

The score still was 2-1 in the ninth, when Alomar, batting lefthanded, lined a 2-out, 2-strike pitch by Bobby Thigpen over the wall in right field to tie the game.

The Sox regained the lead in the 11th on a 2-out hit. But with 1 out in the bottom, Alomar, hitting from the right side, drilled a homer to left off Scott Radinsky.

Radinsky got the next 2 batters, Sammy Sosa homered with a man on in the top of the 12th, and Radinsky set down the Jays in order in the bottom to secure a 5-3 victory.


1991 was the second of 12 straight seasons in which Alomar was an All-Star. He played for 17 years, on 7 teams. His career slash line was .300/.371/.443, for an OPS of .814 and an OPS+ of 116. His 2,724 hits included 210 homers.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.



Besides the 5 games in which 1 player produced 2 play-on homers, there have been 22 in which teammates did so.

Only 1 of the 22 was by the Cubs.

In a seesaw battle on July 22, 1935, the Cubs trailed the Dodgers, 6-10, midway through the seventh inning; 9-12 midway through the eighth; and 11-12 going to the bottom of the ninth.

After an error and a double play, Augie Galan homered off Van Lingle Mungo to tie the score.

A 2-out solo homer by Al Lopez with 2 outs in the 10th put the Dodgers in front again.

A leadoff homer by Phil Cavarretta in the bottom, also off Mungo, knotted the count at 13.

The Dodgers scored again in the 11th on 3 singles, the last 2 with 2 out. The Cubs put runners on first and second with 1 out, but Galan flied out and Billy Herman grounded out to end the game.



Here are all 27 games in which a team had 2 play-on homers, in chronological order. The inning in which the player homered is shown in parentheses after his name. All homers were solo unless indicated otherwise:

1927-07-27: Frankie Frisch (9) and Les Bell (10), Cardinals, vs. Phillies

1930-09-04: Bing Miller (10) and Al Simmons (14, 2-run), Athletics, vs. Red Sox

1934-05-01: Ripper Collins (9 and 11), Cardinals, vs. Reds (both off Si Johnson)

1935-07-22: Augie Galan (9) and Phil Cavarretta (10), Cubs, vs. Dodgers

1951-07-03: Bill Rigney (10) and Willie Mays (13), Giants, vs. Phillies

1951-07-07: Willie Mays (10) and Sal Yvars (11), Giants vs. Braves

1954-05-25: Jim Delsing (9) and Johnny Pesky (11), Tigers, vs. Orioles

1957-07-23: George Crowe (9) and Jerry Lynch (12), Reds, vs. Pirates

1958-09-01: Bob Schmidt (9, 2-run) and Whitey Lockman (16), Giants, vs. Dodgers

1966-08-12: Art Shamsky (10 and 11, 2-run), Reds, vs. Pirates

1971-05-17: Orlando Cepeda (9) and Ralph Garr (10), Braves, vs. Mets

1971-07-15: Willie Stargell (13) and Richie Hebner (16), Pirates, vs. Padres

1973-06-27: Ron Santo (9 and 13), Cubs, vs. Expos

1973-06-29: Darrell Evans (9) and Davey Johnson (10), Braves, vs. Dodgers

1979-05-12: Steve Garvey (9) and Davey Lopes (11), Dodgers, vs. Expos

1983-05-06: Dave Kingman (9, 2-run) and Hubie Brooks (10), Mets, vs. Reds

1984-06-23: Ryne Sandberg (9 and 10, 2-run), Cubs, vs. Cardinals

1985-07-04: Terry Harper (13, 2-run) and Rick Camp (18), Braves, vs. Mets

1991-05-10: Roberto Alomar (9 and 11), Blue Jays, vs. White Sox

1998-07-24: Mark Lewis (9, 2-run) and Ruben Amaro (12), Phillies, vs. Marlins

1998-08-08: Ray Lankford (11, 2-run) and El Marrero (12), Cardinals, vs. Cubs

2002-09-23: Jay Gibbons (9) and Jeff Conine (14), Orioles, vs. Red Sox

2005-09-02: Morgan Ensberg (9) and Brad Ausmus (10), Astros, vs. Cardinals

2008-04-09: Jason Bay (9) and Adam LaRoche (14, 2-run), Pirates, vs. Cubs

2011-06-24: Mark Teahen (9, 3-run) and A.J. Pierzynski (12), White Sox, vs. Nationals

2013-07-04: Anthony Rucker (13) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (14), Mets, vs. Diamondbacks

2015-04-10: Chase Headley (9) and Mark Teixeira (16), Yankees, vs. Red Sox


Note that the Giants did it twice in 1951, in a span of 5 days.

Both homers by the Braves in 1971 came against future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

Rick Camp, who homered for the Braves in the 18th inning in 1985, was a pitcher. He batted with 2 out and nobody on because the Braves had no pinch hitters left. Camp gave up 5 runs in the top of the 19th, the Braves scored 2 in the bottom and the Mets won, 16-13.

The 2 homers by the Cardinals against the Cubs in 1998 both were off Rod Beck, the first with 2 out and the second with 1. The Cards won, 9-8, in the 13th.

The first by the Pirates against the Cubs in 2008 was off Kerry Wood, the first batter he faced. The second, with 1 out, was off Kevin Hart. The Cubs won, 6-4, on Felix Pie's 2-out, 2-run single in the 15th.



The Cubs' 3 games with a pair of play-on homers ties them for the most such games. The Braves, Cardinals and Giants also have had 3.

The Mets, Pirates and Reds have had 2.

The Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Orioles, Phillies, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees have had 1, for a total of 16 different teams.

No American League team has done it more than once. The Astros still were in the NL when they had their only game of the kind.



Of the 54 home runs in the 27 games, 19 were hit in the ninth inning and 35 in the 10th or later.

In 8 of the games, both homers came in extra innings, including both games by the Giants in 1951.

The latest any of the first homers were hit was the 13th, done 3 times.

Here is the number of play-on homers hit in each inning of the 27 games:

9th: 19

10th: 11

11th: 7

12th: 4

13th: 5

14th: 4

15th: 0

16th: 3

17th: 0

18th: 1



Through Thursday, all teams this season had hit 102 homers in the bottom of the 9th inning and 19 in the bottom of the 10th or later.

15 had been play-ons, all in the 9th, including a 3-run homer by Shohei Ohtani of the Angels.

...'s searchable database for home runs begins with 1915.

Some time ago, I painstakingly compiled a list of all 1,368 homers that the Cubs hit in 1876-1914, including the inning, runners on base, outs and score. From it, I was able to identify their first 3 play-on homers.

I do not have a similar list for homers hit by other teams, of which, through Thursday, there were 12,945.

So, all the information that follows is based on the 311,339 regular-season home runs hit from Opening Day of 1915 through Thursday: 13,393 by the Cubs and 297,946 by other teams.


Batters have hit 8,538 homers in the bottom of the ninth, which is 2.7 percent of all homers. The Cubs have hit 397 (3.0 percent of their homers); other teams, 8,141 (2.7 percent of theirs).

Batters have hit 2,600 homers in the bottom of the 10th or later, which is 0.8 percent of all homers. The Cubs have hit 119 (0.9 percent of their homers); other teams, 2,481 (0.8 percent of theirs).


Batters have hit 1,403 play-on homers in the bottom of the ninth, which is 0.5 percent of all homers. The Cubs have hit 84 (0.6 percent of their homers); other teams, 1,319 (0.4 of theirs).

Batters have hit 279 play-on homers in the bottom of the 10th, which is 0.09 percent all homers. The Cubs have hit 10 (0.07 percent of their homers); other teams, 269 (0.09 percent of theirs).


So, in the ninth inning and later, since 1915, batters have hit a total of 1,682 play-on homers, which is 0.5 percent of all homers. The Cubs have hit 94 (0.7 percent of theirs); other teams, 1,588 (0.5 percent of theirs).

Another way of calculating it: 1 of every 185 homers has been a play-on: 1 of every 142 by the Cubs; 1 of every 188 by other teams.



Here is the breakdown by kind of play-on homer by other teams/Cubs, then in parentheses the number hit by other teams/Cubs in the ninth inning and in then extra innings:

Solo: 1,054/62 (842/54, 212/8)

2-run: 414/22 (365/21, 49/1)

3-run: 107/10 (100/9, 7/1)

Slam: 13/0 (12/0, 1/0)

Total: 1,588/94 (1,319/84, 269/10)


Keith Moreland of the Cubs hit the latest of all the 3-run play-ons, in the 17th inning against the Astros in 1986. The game began on Sept. 2, was halted by darkness in the 15th and completed the next day. The Cubs lost, 7-8, in the 18th.



The lone play-on grand slam in extra innings came on June 5, 2013. It was by Kyle Seager of the Mariners, in the 14th inning, with 2 outs, and it erased a 1-5 deficit. The White Sox won game, 7-5, in 16 innings.

There had been only 3 previous extra-inning grand slams with a team trailing by more than 4 runs, 2 of them involving the Cubs:

1925-07-18: Cy Williams, Phillies, vs. Cubs, in the 10th, with the score 2-7

1979-06-30: Mike Vai, Cubs, vs. Mets, in the 11th, with the score 4-9

2005-08-16: Craig Monroe, Tigers, vs. Red Sox, in the 10th, with the score 3-10


The 12 players who hit play-on slams in the ninth, in chronological order:

1957-07-18: Gil Hodges, Dodgers, vs. Cardinals; down 5-9, 1 out

1974-09-09: Darrell Porter, Brewers, vs. Orioles; down 1-5, 1 out

1982-05-22: Terry Puhl, Astros, vs. Mets; down 1-5, 0 out

1986-06-20: George Bell, Blue Jays, vs. Yankees; down, 4-8, 2 out

1987-09-10: Mark Ryal, Angels, vs. Rangers; down 3-7, 1 out

1994-05-05: Brian Dorsett, Reds, vs. Astros; down 2-6, 2 out

1995-05-16: Gary Sheffield, Marlins, vs. Phillies; down 3-7, 2 out

1995-09-03: Ron Tingley, Tigers, vs. Indians; down 4-8, 1 out

1997-09-13: Carl Everett, Mets, vs. Expos; down 2-6, 2 outs

2005-09-17: Khalil Greene, Padres, vs. Nationals; down 1-5, 2 out

2006-06-25: Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox, vs. Astros; down 5-9, 2 out

2018-05-01: Michael Brantley, Indians, vs. Rangers; down 2-6, 2 out

Note that 7 of them came with 2 out, 4 with 1 out and only 1 with nobody out.

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