This Day in Baseball History: July 26th, 1950

Yep, that’s a Dodgers card but a Braves hat.

On July 26, 1950:

Jim Russell hits a home run from both sides of the plate.

A 23-year old Jim Russell began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1943. He was a fairly good hitter with an OPS+ of 108 for his career. His best season was 1944 when he hit .312/.399/.460 with 34 doubles, 14 triples, and 8 home runs and 66 RBI. Russell followed that up with a solid 1945 and 1946, but then, a childhood illness came back. As as youngster, he contracted rheumatic fever twice, and the resulting heart disease would ultimately slow him down and end his career in 1951.

But before his career ended, Russell made a place for himself in baseball history. A switch-hitter, Russell whacked a home run from each side of the plate in a game in 1948, and two years later, he made history by being the first to do it at least twice in his career. Russell was never a home run hitter (his career-high was 12 and mostly stayed around 8 or 9), so it would be impressive enough for him to hit 2 home runs in a game, period. To add the extra difficulty of doing it from both sides of the plate made the feat even more impressive. He would have 4 2-HR games in his career.

But we need to know about all of history, now don’t we? The first time this happened was back on September 8, 1916 by Wally Schang. Mickey Mantle was especially impressive by doing it 10 times in his career, but the cool thing about it was that no one else did it in baseball during his first 9 times. Ken Caminiti tied Mantle, but Eddie Murray topped them both with 11 (Caminiti and Mantle hold the respective league records while Murray hit 9 in the AL and 2 in the NL). Bernie Williams (twice), Chipper Jones, and Milton Bradley are the only ones to do this in a playoff game. As for in one season, Tony Clark, Nick Swisher, and Ken Caminiti hold the record with 3.

Trivia Time
Who are the only two players to hit a home run from each side of the plate in the same inning?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Eddie Collins


2 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: July 26th, 1950”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    I'd like to see some more posts like this. About some of the part-timers and lesser known players.

    We all know, or should know, the Hall of Famers and premier players. But it takes 25 to make a team.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    The problem is that I don't know a whole lot of this type of player. Send me some emails if you think people should know about them, and maybe I'll change the schedule around. I'll leave it up to you, the readers, to let me know. I just don't know about a lot of them, and if you know some, send me a list or a name and I'll be happy to do some posts on the person.

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