Cameron Crazy: 4 HRs
Mike Cameron was always known as the guy who took away home runs.
Cameron hit four homers and came close to a record-setting fifth Thursday night, leading the Seattle Mariners over the Chicago White Sox, 15-4.
Cameron, until now recognized for his Gold Glove and being part of the trade for Ken Griffey Jr., became only the 13th player in major league history to homer four times in a game and the first since Mark Whiten in 1993.
In the ninth inning, Cameron lined an opposite-field drive that had the Comiskey Park crowd thinking he’d done it. But right fielder Jeff Liefer made a running, backhanded catch at the front of the warning track.
“I’m going to cherish it forever,” Cameron said. “I’m going to enjoy this day to the utmost. This is the best day of my baseball career.”
Cameron connected in his first four at-bats, doing it in five innings. He got two more chances to be the first player in the 132-year history of big league ball to homer five times in a game.
In the seventh, Cameron was hit by a pitch from Mike Porzio in the back of the left thigh, drawing boos from the crowd of 12,891.
Cameron then flied out.
“The wind wasn’t going too well to right-center. I hit it well. I struck it as best as I could,” he said. “I thought I had a base hit on that one.”
Whiten hit four homers on Sept. 7, 1993, for St. Louis in the second game of a doubleheader. Rocky Colavito was the last to do it in the American League, on June 10, 1959, for Cleveland.
Cameron began his historic night by joining Bret Boone as the first teammates ever to both hit two home runs in the same inning. They connected back-to-back twice in a 10-run first.
“This first one, I got a ball that was kind of in on me a little bit, and I got it up in the wind a bit, I guess,” he said. “The second one, I knew I extended it pretty good on this one. I knew that was gone.”
Cameron hit a solo shot in the third inning.
“Just full extension,” he said. “I just hit it well.”
With two out in the fifth, Cameron hit another solo homer on a 2-1 count. As his fourth shot soared toward center field, a loud, “Ohhhh!” went up from the crowd. He rounded the bases with a big grin on his face and slapped hands with third-base coach Dave Myers.
“I was just trying to hit the ball real hard right here. And it just carried out for me,” he said.
Ruben Sierra, one of Cameron’s closest friends on the team, greeted him with a big hug after he crossed home plate. And with the crowd giving him a standing ovation, he headed to the dugout as the rest of the Mariners came out to greet him.
Cameron, 29, started his major league career with the White Sox in 1995.
Cameron began this night with five home runs in 91 at-bats, and he hadn’t homered since April 15, a span of 41 at-bats.
In fact, as his average dipped to .238, he visited an eye doctor last week. Because of problems in one eye, he was considering using a contact lens.
Along with his four solo homers--the first one off Jon Rauch and the last three against Jim Parque--Cameron made one of his trademark defensive gems. He reached high above the center-field wall to rob Magglio Ordonez of what would have been a grand slam.
Cameron is only the fifth player to hit four home runs consecutively. He had never hit more than two homers in a game.
Carlos Lee and Royce Clayton hit solo homers for the White Sox. Rauch (0-1) gave up eight runs--five earned--and six hits in one-third of an inning. He was booed as he left the field.
James Baldwin (3-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings to beat his former team. Of course, he had Cameron to thank for that.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Cameron by the Numbers
*--* 93 Career home runs by Cameron before Thursday (in 2,540 at-bats, or one per 27.3 at-bats) 2 Home runs Bret Boone and Cameron hit in the Mariners’ 10-run first inning Thursday. They became the first teammates in major league history to hit two home runs each in the same inning 3 Major league teams for which Cameron has played (Chicago White Sox in 1995-98, Cincinnati in 1999 and Seattle, starting in 2000 5 Home runs Cameron had hit this season before Thursday (in 91 at-bats, or one per 18.2 at-bats) 25 Most home runs Cameron has hit in a season, accomplished in 2001 (in 540 at-bats, or one per 21.6 at-bats ) 29 Cameron’s age and the number of home runs he hit in his four seasons with the White Sox (in 824 at-bats, or one every 28.4 at-bats) 30 Major league players who have hit four home runs in consecutive at-bats and the uniform number of Ken Griffey Jr., whom Cameron replaced in center field for the Mariners 39 Players who had hit two home runs in one inning before Cameron and Boone did it Thursday. Dodger Eric Karros was the last player to accomplish the feat, on Aug. 22, 2000 40 Number of at-bats Cameron had gone without a home run until Thursday 44 Cameron’s uniform number, the same as all-time home run leader Hank Aaron
Seattle Mariners, May 2, 2002
St. Louis ,Sept. 7, 1993
Atlanta, July 6, 1986
Philadelphia, April 17, 1976, 10 inn.
San Francisco, April 30, 1961
Cleveland, June 10, 1959
Milwaukee, July 31, 1954
Brooklyn, Aug. 31, 1950
Chicago, July 18, 1948, 11 inn.
Philadelphia, July 10, 1936, 10 inn.
New York, June 3, 1932
Philadelphia, July 13, 1896
Boston, May 30, 1894
The number of times the following have been achieved:
1--Two players to hit two home runs in one inning
5--Four consecutive home runs in a game
10--Unassisted triple plays
13--Four home runs in a game