Mel Stottlemyre’s inside-the-park grand slam

Some of the old timers out there might remember when Mel Stottlemyre hit an inside-the-park grand slam against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

The date was July 20, 1965, and I recall listening to the call on the radio on the beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey. The grand slam, which came in the fifth inning, helped the Yankees to a 6-3 win over Boston that day as Stottlemyre recovered from his race around the bases to hurl a complete game.

“I remember a lot about it,” Stottlemyre said. “It was in the [Yankee] stadium, the ball was hit to left-center field, against Boston, a real hot day in July. The pitcher was Bill Monbouquette. Those things you don’t forget.”

What I did not realize until recently was exactly how rare an inside-the-park grand slam really is. For instance, Stottlemyre become the first pitcher to hit an inside-the-park grand slam since Deacon Phillippe did it for the Pirates in 1910. No pitcher has done it since.

Inside-the-park home runs were much more common in the first half of the century, when ballparks were bigger and there was less emphasis on hitting the ball over the fence. There have been 40 inside-the-park grand slams since 1950, eight since 1990, and none since October 3, 1999 when Randy Winn of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hit one.

Some other interesting factoids:

  • Roberto Clemente, one of the greatest outfielders in Baseball history, is also the only player in baseball history to have hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam
  • Jimmy Sheckard completed a phenomenal feat in 1901, hitting inside-the-park grand slams in consecutive games on consecutive days with the Brooklyn Superbas (later the Brooklyn Dodgers).Sheckard is the only person in baseball history to accomplish that feat.
  • Sheckhard’s teammate, Joe Kelly, also hit one in the first game of Sheckhard’s tandem.
  • Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner had five inside-the-park grand slams in his storied career, the most in baseball history.
  • Tony Gwynn, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson are also on the list. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. are not.

55 Comments on “Mel Stottlemyre’s inside-the-park grand slam”

  1. Tilio Orlandini says:

    I was saw the game on channel 11, WPIX and remember the ball rolling to the monuments that stood in CF. I watched it from Newark, N.J. Now those were fond memories.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Tilio, thanks for your comment. It’s amazing how many people I’ve spoken with still remember that game.

    • alsivi says:

      I too saw it. What day of the week was it? The out field was playing in close and Mel hit a line drive into death valley

      • SportsLifer says:

        Amazing, was just talking about this the other day. It was a Tuesday afternoon game at the old Yankee Stadium, 24,594 in attendance.

    • SportsLifer says:

      It’s amazing how many people fondly remember that game.

  2. Ed King says:

    I was there! I was 14 years old. For years, I thought I had just imagined that it was an inside the park grand slam. I remember it doing a lot of rolling on its way to the monuments!

  3. Don says:

    I also was there was,only 10 years old, and for 40 years kept my scorecard. Even as a kid I realized what a rare event it was, I actually remember from my upper deck seats the ball kicking around behind the monuments which were in play then. I actually sent the scorecard to Stottlemyre when he was Yankees pitching coach. .

    • SportsLifer says:

      Don, thanks for sharing your story. It was a rare moment. Stott was an excellent pitcher and pitching coach, but that was his defining moment.

  4. Michael Bucci says:

    That was the first game my Dad took me to, I just turned 7 years old. Have been a Yankee fan ever since. I still have that scorecard to this day!! Also had the pleasure of meeting Mel in 1968, he lived on the next block over, for the summer, my brother used to play with Todd & Mel Jr. I remember talking to him in his driveway the day he beat Denny McLain, to keep him at 29 wins!!

    • SportsLifer says:

      Mike, great story. Hope you enjoyed the post.

    • Saul Bruh says:

      It was my first game ever also. I was ten years old and distinctly remember the game beginning with Jim Gosger’s 290′ shot down the right field line.
      It was sheer pandemonium when Stottlemeyer hit a high liner just making it over the drawn in center fielder . The ball had enough on it to roll all the way to the monuments. The CF ran to retrieve the ball at the base of the monuments and actually had to run away from the monuments In order to uncork the throw to the cut off guy. Mel Stottlemeyer meanwhile was lumbering around third as the crowd stood and blocked my view. I literally pushed myself between the adults to see Stottlemeyer as he slid under the catcher. This was no gimme and Stot was hardly the world’s fastest human. The ump dramatically issued the SAAAFFE….call.

      My father turned to me and told me that in my first game I saw what baseball fans never see in a lifetime. Sure enough, the next morning Johnny Keane, the Yanks manager, wrote an article in the Daily News saying that in 47 years he had never seen a grand slam inside the parker by a pitcher.
      It was a day to remember and I always have.

      • SportsLifer says:

        Thanks for your story Saul. Amazing how many people recall that game….or even better, where there to witness it.

  5. Bonnie Laurie says:

    I saw the game on TV, and it was really exciting to watch Stottlemyre cross home plate. Years later, when he was pitching coach for the Mets, a friend told me she was going to be introduced to him at a publicity event. I told her about this incredible feat, and when she met Stottlemyre, she asked, “Didn’t you hit an inside-the-park-grand slam?” He looked down bashfully and said, “Well, once.”

    • SportsLifer says:

      Bonnie, thanks for your comment. It’s amazing how many people remember that game…or better yet were there. See the great comments from readers.

  6. Buck says:

    Amazing! Only 24,000 in attendance, yet folks are popping up here like wildfire saying they were there.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Ha. More than a million saw Bobby Thomson’s home run…some of whom weren’t even born yet.

      • Attendance at Woodstock? 15 or 20 million! This was a great day. I was listening on a car radio, a 1957 green Ford station wagon my dad used for work. We were shocked to say the least. Mel is one of the greatest Yankees. To bad he played in such a down period of Yankee history. He might have won 300 had it not been for his rotator cuff.

  7. […] 1965 — Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees hit an inside-the-park grand slam against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (More info.) […]

  8. phil washington says:

    Saw the game on TV in my Bronx apartment, home from school because it was summertime. But contrary to many accounts here, however, the ball did not roll to the monuments. The ball was hit into the left center gap and rolled to the wall in left center.

    • Bill Fitzpartrick says:

      OK, I was only 11 years old, but Phil’s account is exactly what I remember. It was a hard hit ball over the shortstops head, but because he was the pitcher, the outfielders were playing in, and they could not catch up with the ball until it was near/on the warning track in left-center. in my mind’s eye, against a hitter and not a pitcher, it would have been a hard hit single, nothing more. I also think (could be wrong) that Mel went 5-5 that day at the plate! In any event, such splendid memories.

      • SportsLifer says:

        Bill, thanks so much for your feedback. Would love to see a replay of the grand slammer. I remember being an eighth-grader listening to the radio call on a Jersey Shore beach. Mel Stottlemyre went 1-for-3 that day, and pitched a complete game for the win. In his rookie year, 1964, Stott did go 5-for-5 against the Washington Senators and pitched a two-hit shutout in a late September game.

      • John says:

        I saw these three games on TV :

        – the inside-the-park grand slam game
        – the 5-for-5 game
        – The game where he hit for the cycle

        I don’t remember the order, but it sure made this kid feel good!

      • SportsLifer says:

        Thanks John. Certainly remember the first two — but I don’t believe Stott, or any other pitcher, ever hit for the cycle. Jimmy Ryan, a center fielder for the Cubs, hit for the cycle in a game in which he pitched. It happened in 1888, so doubt any of us saw that one.

  9. Bob D'Addario says:

    My first memory of anything–ever! I was 5 years old and listening to the game in my father’s car. I remember being in a parking lot when it happened and I knew it was something amazing–I was very excited, but i remember my father not being as excited. He must have known what kind of team the Yankees were going to be for the next ten years.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Bob, you have a great memory. And yes, 1965 was the beginning of the bad years for the Yankees. It took them a dozen years to get back to the World Series in 1976.

  10. Kurt says:

    I was jawing with a friend about our earliest baseball memories, and I told him I could still recall the first pro game my dad took me to, because Mel Stottlemyre had hit an inside the park grand slam against the Red Sox. Forty five years on, though, I couldn’t be sure whether my mind was playing tricks on me. Well, a bit of googling led me here, and I’m so pleased to confirm it was all true! I remember sitting in the stands along the first base line and seeing the ball rolling, rolling, rolling out in centerfield. It was probably the game that turned me into a baseball fan for life.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Kurt, thanks for sharing your first baseball memory. It continually amazes me how many people remember that moment.

  11. jim burrell says:

    Anyone remember who the three baserunners were?

  12. […] in Yankee wins with 164, included three 20-win seasons. Stott had 40 career shutouts and hit an inside-the-park grand slam against Boston in […]

  13. Michael Garwood says:

    I was 15 at the time and we were in New York to see the Worlds Fair and My parents took me and my brother to the game and because I was a Yankee fan and Mel was my favorite pitcher. I will never forget that game.

  14. […] 1965 — Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees hit an inside-the-park grand slam against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (More info.) […]

  15. Mike says:

    I just watched of this year’s Yankee old timers day & Mel was honored with a plaque. My first thought was the inside the park grand slam he hit at the stadium. I was at that game, I was 14 years old at the time. At that time left center field or “death valley”, as they called it then, was a virtual no man’s land. The ball seemed to roll forever before it hit the wall. What impressed me the most though, was how fast Mel was. He got around those bases in no time. Great memory!!!!

    • SportsLifer says:

      Thanks for sharing those memories Mike. It amazes me how many folks remember that grand slammer. It’s on Mel’s plaque.

  16. Tom Christensen says:

    We were on a family driving vacation from Chicago. We had to drive through New York and Dad insisted we wouldn’t stop. But we were listening to the game on the radio. Here were a bunch of White Sox fans yelling in the car for a Yankee.

  17. MICK says:

    I was also at his game with my grandfather & brother

  18. patrickthand says:

    I saw that on TV. I looked it up because I just saw Aaron Altherr of the Phillies do it. First time in 50 years that I’ve seen one.

  19. Antoine Dozois says:

    It’s one of my top-three lifetime baseball stories. When I was a young, fatherless boy just outside Newark, a kind old neighbor, Mr. Friedeberg, asked my widowed mom if he could take me out to Yankee Stadium that hot July day. I remember our long trek via buses and subways—and my getting caught in the subway doors and almost left behind, with Mr. Friedeberg watching from the platform in the Bronx. Even at 12 and just beginning to learn the fine points of the game, I knew that witnessing an inside-the-park grand slam—by a pitcher, to win his own game!—was pretty significant, but 50 years later, I still scratch my head and ask myself, Did that really happen?!? Every season I see or read about something that reminds me, just when you think you’ve seen it all in baseball, something unique occurs. But we will never again see the likes what Mel did in day in ’65. Wow!

  20. Antoine Dozois says:

    SportsLifer: Please, please fix my last sentence in my comment above to read thusly:

    But we will never again see the likes OF what Mel did THAT day in ’65. Wow!

    Thank you…Antoine Dozois

  21. Jim Aulenti says:

    I was at the game, 10 years old, my dad brought me and my brother. Mel came up and my brother said “This guy is gonna hit a home run” at which point 10 men shouted unanimously “NO WAY”. Next pitch, POW, a high drive, a gapper, that baby landed dead between the center and right fielders and bounded into Death Valley. It was, I think, 465 feet to the fence, so while the ball is rolling, the fielders are chasing and the bases full of Yankees turning corners. As Mel turned second the crowd started to roar with anticipation because we could witness something never seen in baseball history, a young pitcher whacking an inside the park Grand Salami. As he approached third they finally corralled the ball and fired it in but too late, Mel crossed the plate standing up.

    Most exciting play ever. I still believe the inside the park homer is the most exciting play in baseball as it pits hustle, speed and stamina against hustle, speed and stamina. They really did a disservice to the game by shortening the fences, that original Yankee Stadium was an architectural wonder and wonderful to behold.

    When I saw my first game ~ age 5 ~ walking up those big, wide ramps ~ with each step the field emerged in front of my eyes ~ I thought I was going to heaven. I loved it so much.

    I still dream about baseball and never want to stop.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Amazing how many readers of this blog were at the game…or at least recall where they were when it happened. I was listening to the game at the beach in Spring Lake, NJ, when Stott hit the inside-the-parker.

    • Don G says:

      Jim, I was also at game, also was 10 years old , and your memories of HR parallel mine . Even at 10 I realized how unbelievably rare that had to be for a pitcher. I actually had the scorecard for
      the game which I used to fill in quite well as a kid. I had it for 40 years or so,
      and sent it to Mel when he first got sick.

  22. george corio says:

    Wonder if WPIX has a film of the 1965 Mel Stottlemyre inside the park grand slammer. would love to finally see it

  23. Bill says:

    I was 10 years old and saw it on
    TV. The ball was lined into left-
    center field over the heads of Yaz-
    strzemski and Gosger, who were
    probably playing more shallow
    because a pitcher was up. Stott
    was an outstanding athlete who
    could run. I don’t recall who was
    doing the TV play-by-play (Joe
    Garagiola possibly?) but he em-
    phasized how quickly Mel had
    circled the bases. Though he slid
    into home, it wasn’t a close play.

  24. Susan says:

    I remember this grand slam and never forgot it! I was reading today how Mel was recovering from an illness from the chemo for his cancer and I thought of this again….Those were the absolute best Yankee days for me from the late 50s through the mid 60s….So happy to hear he is doing much better and about how rare this type of grand slam was…..

  25. […] center. Also Mel Stottlemyre once hit an inside-the-park grand slam at old Yankee Stadium, aided by the monuments in Monument Park being in play). So the 224 inside-the-park grand slams proposed by a Yahoo Answers commenter from the start of […]

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