Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: The First Grand Slam in Orioles History

Orioles fans know the names Chris Hoiles, Frank Robinson, and Jim Gentile. Among other accomplishments, they're the only O's players to hit two grand slams in one game.

Less well remembered is the name  Robert Daniel Kennedy. Bob Kennedy played 132 games in an Orioles uniform from 1954 to 1955, during which time he hit the first grand slam in team history. It happened on Friday, July 30, 1954, before 27,385 fans at Memorial Stadium. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 10-0 despite the fact that the teams sported nearly inverse records: Baltimore 36-64; New York 67-34.

Kennedy's grand slam came in the bottom of the fourth inning off five-time All Star Allie Reynolds, who finished the season, his last in the majors, with a 13-4 record and a 3.32 ERA. The Yankees did not compete in the post-season that year despite winning 103 games. The first-place Cleveland Indians won 111 games before losing to Willie Mays and the New York Giants in the World Series.

Eddie Waitkus, Chuck Diering, and Vern Stephens scored on the grand slam, which gave the Orioles a 7-0 lead.

Kennedy hit six home runs in 1954 and tied with Cal Abrams for second-most on the team behind Vern Stephens' eight home runs. Memorial Stadium originally had hedges instead of fences, and they stood 445 feet from home plate.

Don Larsen pitched a complete-game shutout for his third and final win of the 1954 season. Larsen finished 3-21, setting the club record for losses in a season. The Orioles traded him to the Yankees that November. Two years later he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.

Kennedy also holds the distinction of being among the rare father-son combinations to have both played in an Orioles uniform. The Chicago native's son, Terry Kennedy, played catcher for the Orioles during the 1987 and 1988 seasons, earning an All-Star nod in '87.

The Orioles' other father-son player combos are Don Buford (1968-1972) and Damon Buford (1993-1995) along with Tim Raines (four games in 2001) and Tim Raines Jr. (2001, 2003, 2004). Though Cal Sr. never played for the Orioles there's also a bit of a Ripken family line that runs through the team's history.

There are other potential names that could be added to this list as well. The most likely candidates are Steve Johnson, who would follow in the footsteps of his father, Dave Johnson (1989-1991), and Steve Bumbry, son of Al Bumbry (1972-1984), who was drafted by the Orioles in 2009.

Other possibilities include Toronto pitchers Kyle Drabek, son of Doug Drabek (1998), and Josh Roenicke, son of Gary Roenicke (1978-1975). Meanwhile, Tug Hulett, son of Tim Hulett (1989-1994), plays in the Boston system.

You can read more about Bob Kennedy, including his role as a popcorn vendor during the Joe Louis-James Braddock heavyweight title fight, at StateMaster.

Image Source: The Virtual Card Collection.


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