Offensive Explosion from Unlikely Source
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - On this date in baseball history Tony Cloninger of the Atlanta Braves became the first National Leaguer to hit two grand slam home runs in one game. Remarkable as that feat was, the display of power stands out mainly because Cloninger was the Braves' pitcher. He drove in 9 runs, while pitching a 7-hit complete game as the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 17-3.
Speaking of home run hitting pitchers, the best, most would agree, was Babe Ruth. In the four full seasons before he became an every day outfielder he hit 20 home runs. One of the home run leaders of the day, Gavvy Cravath hit 55 over the same time period, but being an everyday player, Cravath had about 1200 more at bats than Ruth.
Ruth was really a slugger who happened to pitch a few years. Let's look at ballplayers who were pitchers their entire careers. The home run king was Wes Ferrell. He hit 9 in 1931 alone, a record for pitchers which stands today.
Top 10 career HR hitters who were primarily pitchers:
Wes Ferrell 38
Bob Lemon 37
Redd Ruffing 36
Warren Spahn 35
Jack Stivetts 35
Earl Wilson 35
Don Drysdale 29
John Clarkson 24
Bob Gibson 24
Walter Johnson 23
For the record, Tony Cloninger hit 11 career home runs.
Best hitting pitchers
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