Throwback Thursday: When a Pitcher Hit an Inside-the-Park Grand Slam Against the Sox

Not our finest moment.

Associated Press

Associated Press

If you think it’s hard to watch the Red Sox as we come back from the All Star break in last place, here’s a throwback for you to remember a time of greater embarrassment. On July 20, 1965, pitcher Mel Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the fifth inning against Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette.

Sure, it isn’t pleasant to listen to the radio nowadays and hear the words “The last-place Boston Red Sox.” But at least you don’t have to open your Boston Globe sports section and read these words:

Mel Stottlemyre, a pitcher with no great reputation as a hitter, cracked an inside-the-park home run Tuesday as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 6-3.

The ignominious play came in the 5th inning, with the bases loaded. Here’s how the New York Times described it:

The ball was drilled cleanly between the Red Sox left-fielder, Carl Yastrzemski, and center-fielder, Jim Gosger, who were playing fairly shallow. As Pepitone, Boyer and Repoz all scored, it rolled to the bleacher wall in deepest center. When Stottlemyre reached third, Yastrzemski and Gosger were finally overtaking it.

“I was surprised when Frank Crosetti waved me in,” the young pitcher said.

The Red Sox were surprised too.

Stottlemeyer, by the way, went on to be the pitching coach for the Yankees until 2005. Inside-the-park home runs were more common back in the day when stadiums were slightly larger, but an inside-the-park grand slam was by no means a frequent occurrence, and certainly not from a pitcher. (The American League didn’t bring in designated hitters until 1973.) reports that there have been just two inside-the-park grand slams hit by pitchers in MLB history. Since 1965, the feat has become even rarer. The last inside-the-park grand slam in the majors was hit in 1999.

We don’t mean to jinx anything by mentioning all this and thus bring something equally absurd this season. We just want to give you a little something to hold onto—a “hey, it has sort of been worse” to tell your friends. Enjoy it.