The National League MVP was back where he made his debut, five years ago in May. In his first game, in his second at bat, he got his first Major League hit. In his second game, he got his first MLB home run. Move forward to the last day of April 2012. Ryan Braun, who had been struggling at the plate early in this season, unleashed his power and hit three home runs and a triple for 15 total bases. It was the first time a player hit three home runs in the history of Petco Park in San Diego, home of the Padres. It was one of those magical moments when a player does something exceptional that makes baseball unique.
Yet for all that Braun did Monday night, it isn’t the biggest game a Milwaukee player has had in hitting. For that we have to go back to a magical Saturday, July 31, 1954, in Brooklyn against the Dodgers.
On that 212th day of the year, history was made by a couple of people in the world. Ardito Desio led Italian mountaineers Lino Lacedelli and Achiile Compagnoni to become the first successfully to reach the summit of the Himalayan peak K2. In baseball, another summit in history was reached by Joe Adcock, #9 in your program, of the Milwaukee Braves. That was the day he did the unthinkable. He hit four home runs and a double (high off the top of the Lucky Strike sign in left field which would have given him five home runs for the game) to give him 18 total bases, a record which stood until Shawn Green (of the Dodgers) broke it with 19 total bases against the Brewers in 2002. As you can see, it’s sort of a Milwaukee thing.
The 12,263 fans who witnessed this feat in Ebbets Field that day saw the big Milwaukee first baseman hit the home runs off of four different pitchers, including Don Newcombe (in the top of the 2nd inning), Erv Palicka (in the 5th) and Pete Wojey (in the 7th) before capping his performance with that final home run against Johnny Padres in the 9th.
To say Adcock was prodigious is an understatement. During his career, he was the only player to ever hit a home run over the left field grandstand roof in Ebbets Field. He was the first of three to ever hit a home run in the center field bleachers in the Polo Grounds (Aaron and Brock were the others). Also, during his career, he hit 10 grand slam home runs out of the 336 he hammered over the wall. Obviously he could hit. He was an All-Star in 1960.
Adcock was a legend for his power accomplishments. But on that one Saturday in Brooklyn he set a standard few could ever reach, not even Braun on an almost perfect night of hitting in San Diego nearly sixty years later.
One more thing: on the next day, the Milwaukee Braves clobbered the Dodgers 14-6. After flying out in the first, he doubled in the 3rd inning off Russ Meyer. When he came to the plate in he 4th, Clem Lebine pitching in relief, beaned Adcock with a fast ball, sending him to the hospital. That’s the way the game was played, and with some, it still is.