Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11th, 1971

Steve Dunning Hits Grand Slam

Steve Dunning, as a little research will reveal, finished his career with just four home runs, but twenty-three victories. Put more simply, he was a pitcher. Not really much of a pitcher, as those twenty-three wins indicate, although he had been the MVP of the Stanford baseball team and Cleveland's number one draft pick. Dunning never won more than eight games in a season (1971) and finished with an underwhelming 4.56 ERA in over six hundred lifetime innings.

Pitchers as a rule don't hit many grand slams (they don't hit many home runs, of course) but Dunning's feat was a particularly remarkable one. Dunning's grand slam came off of the A's Diego Segui (father of recent Major League David Segui) but the really important part of what Dunning did is the year. In 1972 the American League introduced the designated hitter rule, meaning their pitchers went from hitting not many home runs to hitting almost literally none.

Not surprisingly, this not did exactly boost pitcher grand slam numbers. In fact, no American League pitcher has hit a grand slam in a game guessed it: Steve Dunning. With the advent of interleague play, it figures to be only a matter of time before an AL pitcher finally jerks one with the bases juiced. For now however, Steve Dunning holds the title.

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