Blanchard Was Johnny on the SpotPosted: March 27, 2009
Johnny Blanchard, right, Yogi Berra, left, and Elston Howard split catching duties with the World Champion 1961 New York Yankees.
In the long and storied history of major league baseball, no player has ever homered in five successive at bats.
Johnny Blanchard, the former Yankee who passed away earlier this week, may have come the closest.
On July 21, 1961, Blanchard hit a pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Yankees an 11-8 victory against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The following night, Blanchard, again hitting for Clete Boyer, hit another home run in the ninth to tie the score, helping the Yanks rally for an 11-9 win.
After a couple of days off, Blanchard homered in his first two at bats against the White Sox on July 26 at Yankee Stadium in a 5-2 win. His bid for a record fifth straight homer landed in the glove of Chicago right fielder Floyd Robinson a few feet shy of the short porch in right.
Only 34 players in history have homered in four straight at bats. Notable accomplishments include the following:
- Robert Lowe (1894), Lou Gehrig (1932), Rocky Colavito (1959), Mike Schmidt (1976), Mike Cameron (2002) and Carlos Delgado did it in one game.
- In addition to Blanchard, three other Yankees performed the feat: Gehrig, Mickey Mantle (1962) and Bobby Murcer (1970).
- Another Yankee, Reggie Jackson, hit four homers in a row against the Dodgers in games five and six of the 1977 World Series.
- Schmidt also hit four in a row over the course of two games in 1979, the only player to do it twice.
- Blanchard and Baltimore’s Jeff Manto(1995) are the only players to hit four straight over three games.
- Ted Williams hit four in four games with the Red Sox in 1957, the only player ever to do that.
- Jimmie Foxx (1933), Hank Greenberg (1938), Stan Musial (1962) and Barry Bonds (2001) are among others who did it.
- Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Mark McGwire are among those who didn’t.
Blanchard, a native of Minnesota, had a brief stint with the Yankees in 1955 before coming to the majors to stay four years later.
A catcher, first baseman and outfielder, Blanchard was a valuable utility man on five straight Yankee pennant winners (1960-64), and played on both the 1961 and 1962 champions.
Blanchard had a career year in 1961, batting .305 with 21 homers and knocking in 54 runs in just 243 at bats.
He batted .345 in five World Series, including .400 in 1961 against the Reds. In that Series, Blanchard hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of game three and a two-run shot in the game five clincher.