April 17, 1976: When Mike Schmidt hit 4 straight homers in a Wrigley Discipline slugfest

When one thinks of the Phillies and Cubs enjoying at Wrigley Discipline within the ’70s, it is onerous not to think about historic wackiness. 

The primary thought is normally about Could 17, 1979, when the groups battled it out in a see-saw affair that produced 45 runs, however their matchup on April 17, 1976, was virtually as entertaining. That was the day Mike Schmidt made historical past with a quartet of homers that helped key a serious Phillies comeback in one other contest that was drunk on runs.

However Schmidt’s efficiency was about greater than the 4 dwelling runs. It was additionally about the way in which the homers occurred, and the circumstances by which they occurred. 

MORE: Watch video of (virtually) each four-homer sport in MLB historical past

For starters, Schmidt started the sport in a stoop. He was batting .167 with one dwelling run at first of play and had been demoted from third to sixth within the batting order. He was understandably peeved, and he had a protracted discuss with veteran teammate Dick Allen earlier than the sport. 

“I wasn’t precisely hangdog or something like that, however I wanted any person to speak to and Allen is the proper man,” Schmidt instructed Sporting Information on the time. “He is been round a very long time and he is aware of what to say and say it.”

Extra on that later.

Second, Schmidt did not hit his first homer of the sport till the fifth inning, which is kinda beautiful. Often when a batter approaches the single-game homer document, he has a minimum of two by across the fifth inning. However Schmidt’s first homer got here in his third plate look — he flew out in his first at-bat and singled in his second — and the two-run shot got here with the Phillies trailing the Cubs 13-2. 

Third, the 4 homers got here in 4 consecutive at-bats, which made Schmidt the primary participant in NL historical past to do this, and simply the fourth ever. His final homer, a two-run blast, got here within the 10th inning and gave the Phillies a 17-15 lead. They added one other run within the inning and received 18-16. (Trivia: Historical past would repeat itself virtually verbatim three years and one month later, when a solo homer from Schmidt gave the Phillies the win in that wild 23-22 sport.)

This is a take a look at all 4 of Schmidt’s homers. His third, a towering shot to proper middle that lands deep within the bleachers, is kind of spectacular, wind or not.

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The pitching victims, for these conserving rating: Rick Reuschel (twice), Mike Garman and Paul Reuschel.

Schmidt’s breakout on April 17 might’ve been attributed to a couple elements: the wind blowing out at Wrigley, regression to the imply or, perhaps, motivation after being dropped to sixth within the order. However to ask him, that demotion from the three spot had nothing to do with it.

“I do not assume it might’ve made any distinction the place I batted,” he instructed SN on the time. “I acquired numerous assist from Billy (DeMars, a Phillies coach) in follow the day earlier than. Then when the Cubs acquired thus far forward, I feel I simply relaxed and went to swinging the bat.”

The pre-game pep discuss from Allen helped, too, Schmidt stated.

“I’m going to him loads and so do a few of the different gamers,” he stated. “In truth, I feel extra of us should do it.”

Regardless of Schmidt’s reward, Allen took no credit score.

“I did not do a factor,” he instructed SN later. “All I instructed Mike was to go on the market and have some enjoyable and let his means care for the remaining. It is so simple as that for a participant like him.”

Perhaps so, however Schmidt did not need to make an excessive amount of of his huge day.

“When a batter strikes out 4 occasions in a sport, they inform him to overlook it,” he instructed SN. “Properly, I would prefer to overlook concerning the homers. I need to think about the video games forward. Perhaps after the season, I am going to look again and give it some thought, however not now.”

In Schmidt’s protection, he had different homers to consider — as a result of these 4 lengthy balls on April 17 set the tone for the following few days. Schmidt homered in every of the Phils’ subsequent three video games, giving him seven homers in 4 video games. In truth, 9 of Schmidt’s first 13 hits in 1976 have been dwelling runs. He’d go on to complete with 38 and lead the NL for the third straight season. He additionally led the league with 306 whole bases, compiled 8.zero bWAR and completed third in MVP voting.

And, clearly, Schmidt wasn’t completed with homers after 1976. He would lead the league in huge flies 5 extra occasions in his profession and end with 548 en path to the Corridor of Fame.

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