Baseball records are full of statistics of great pitching accomplishments. For as long as he game has been played, pitching is one of the fundamentals that separates the best from the good. Yesterday, K-Rod reached a step in grand accomplishment as he earned his 300th save preserving a shutout win for the Milwaukee Brewers over the Atlanta team. That was done by throwing the ball. But what about hitting the ball?
One of the strangest accomplishments on the record book involves pitchers hitting. On this date in 1971, Phillies right-hander Rick Wise threw only 95 pitches to 28 batters for a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. What made this effort really unusual was that Wise hit two home runs in the game, making him one of only 55 pitchers since 1900 to hit two home runs in a single game. That was the first time he had a multi-home run game. On August 28th, a little over a month later, he did it again against the Giants, making him one of only 9 pitchers ever to hit two home runs in the same game twice or more.
Those nine pitchers did the improbable. Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves did it in 1957 against the Reds and in 1958 against the Dodgers. Tony Cloninger of Atlanta did it twice in 1966 against the Mets and Giants. Dick Donovan of the Cleveland Indians hit two in the same game against the Tigers and the Orioles in 1962. Jack Harshman, Baltimore Orioles, did it twice in 1958 against the White Sox and the Senators. Pedro Ramos of Cleveland, hit two home runs in the same game against the Orioles in 1962 and the Angels in 1963. Red Ruffing of the Yankees did the same in 1930 against the St. Louis Brows and in 1936 against the Cleveland Indians.
Then there is Don Newcombe of the Dodgers. The great Dodgers pitcher did it three times. In 1955, he hit two home runs in the same game against the New York Giants. He then did the same thing against the Pirates in 1955. Finally, as a Los Angeles Dodger, he did it against the Cardinals in 1958. But that was not the greatest multi home run game by a pitcher.
That accomplishment goes to Wes Ferrell of the Boston Red Sox. He hit two home runs in a single game five times. In 1931 against the Chicago White Sox; in 1934 against the St. Louis Browns and the White Sox; in 1935 against the Washington Senators and finally in 1936 against the Philadelphia A’s.
But nobody did what Rick Wise did by not only hitting two in a game but throwing a no-hitter on top of that. It’s like having both sides of your brain working at the same time at the same moment. That’s why when someone does it again, if ever, its Holy Wise.