Fun Facts About Inside-the-Park Home Runs
One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the inside-the-park home run. The ITPHR is a rare event in today’s game due, primarily due to smaller field dimensions. It can involve a diving attempt at a fly ball that comes up just short, a collision between fielders, a ball that ricochets off the fence and takes a wild bounce, a fielder flipping over a fence along with variations on those themes. Prince Fielder logged an unusual inside-the-parker on a high fly ball that hit a speaker affixed to the roof of the Metrodome.
According to Baseball Almanac, the All-time ITPHR record is held by Jesse Burkett (55), followed by Sam Crawford (51), Tommy Leach (48), Ty Cobb (46) and Honus Wagner (46). I have constrained my research to the 1950-2015 seasons using the event files from Retrosheet. Additional career, single-season and single-game ITPHR records can be viewed at the Baseball Almanac website.
I downloaded the 1950 through 2015 season-by-season event databases from Retrosheet and extracted all of the inside-the-park home run events (HR$ indicates an inside-the-park home run by giving a fielder as part of the code.)
“Event files for most seasons prior to 1974 are each missing a few games. For a list of the games that are missing (although some of them are in the event files with some innings reconstructed based on a partial game account and box score) see the Most Wanted List… Note that some games in our files have “99” for missing plays that were outs.” – Retrosheet Event Files
Inside-The-Park Home Runs (1950-2015)
Twelve of Willie Wilson’s 41 career home runs are of the inside-the-park variety. He legged out eight of the twelve in his home ballpark and all occurred during a five-year span (1979-1983). Wilson delivered a walk-off ITPHR against the Yankees in the 13th inning on June 9, 1979. Fifteen years passed between Lou Brock’s first (1962) and last (1977) inside-the-parkers. Dick Allen drilled Bert Blyleven pitches in the first and fifth inning of a July 31, 1972 contest past Minnesota center fielder Bobby Darwin to achieve a multiple-ITPHR game. The “Wampum Walloper” and Greg Gagne (Minnesota, 1986) are the only batters to accomplish this feat in the last 83 seasons. Amos Otis (6) and George Brett (5) achieved all of their ITPHR at Kauffman Stadium.
|Ken Griffey Jr.||3|
Inside-The-Park Home Runs Allowed (1950-2015)
Don Cardwell (7) allowed the most ITPHR in the past 65 campaigns including two by the “Say Hey Kid”. Of the six inside-the-parkers that Willie Mays laced in his illustrious career, he achieved the feat twice against Cardwell. He delivered the first jolt on May 30, 1957 in a contest between the Giants and Phillies then struck again six years later on July 16, 1963 vs. the Pirates. Hall of Fame hurlers Whitey Ford and Fergie Jenkins yielded 6 ITPHR in their careers. “Mandrake the Magician” aka Don Mueller tallied two ITPHR in his career, both served up by Murry Dickson.
Inside-The-Park Home Runs by Team (1950-2015)
Six MLB franchises have amassed at least 50 inside-the-park home runs since 1950. Four of those organizations (Royals, Phillies, Pirates and Twins) played in stadiums with artificial turf installed for at least 20 seasons while the deep center field dimensions at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds have influenced the Yankees and Giants totals to some extent. The Royals top the leader boards with 86, followed by the Phillies (64), Pirates (56), Yankees (55), Giants (52) and Senators I / Twins (51).
The St. Louis Browns / Baltimore Orioles own the lowest ITPHR totals for the “Turn of the Century” teams with 25, paced by three fleet four-baggers from Paul “Motormouth” Blair. The San Diego Padres rank last among the expansion franchises (1961-1977) with 17 ITPHR. The Tony Gwynn father-son combo tops the Friars with two inside-the-parkers apiece.
|Los Angeles Angels||ANA||24|
|St. Louis Browns||SLA||3|
|Boston Red Sox||BOS||30|
|Chicago White Sox||CHA||34|
|Kansas City Royals||KCA||86|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||LAN||35|
|Washington Senators I||WS1||10|
|New York Yankees||NYA||55|
|New York Mets||NYN||24|
|Kansas City Athletics||KC1||12|
|San Diego Padres||SDN||17|
|New York Giants||NY1||22|
|San Francisco Giants||SFN||30|
|St. Louis Cardinals||SLN||45|
|Tampa Bay Rays||TBA||14|
|Washington Senators II||WS2||7|
|Toronto Blue Jays||TOR||25|
Inside-The-Park Home Runs by Ballpark (1950-2015)
Adrian Beltre supplied the lone ITPHR in Safeco Field history on July 23, 2006, off Mike Timlin and the Boston Red Sox. Likewise, Edwin Encarnacion rounded the bases to complete the only inside-the-parker at Busch Stadium III against Anthony Reyes and the St. Louis Cardinals on August 31, 2007.
|FranchID||Ballpark||Year(s) In Use||ITPHR|
|ANA||Angel Stadium of Anaheim||1966-2015||19|
|ATL||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||1966-1996||5|
|BAL||Sportsman’s Park III||1950-1953||1|
|BAL||Oriole Park at Camden Yards||1992-2015||4|
|CHW||Comiskey Park I||1950-1990||33|
|CHW||U.S. Cellular Field||1991-2015||3|
|CIN||Great American Ballpark||2003-2015||5|
|COL||Mile High Stadium||1993-1994||5|
|FLA||Pro Player Stadium||1993-2011||16|
|HOU||Minute Maid Park||2000-2015||7|
|LAD||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||1958-1961||5|
|MIL||Milwaukee County Stadium||1970-2000||7|
|MIN||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||1982-2009||24|
|NYM||Polo Grounds V||1962-1963||9|
|NYY||Yankee Stadium I||1950-2008||80|
|NYY||Yankee Stadium II||2009-2015||4|
|OAK||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||1968-2015||16|
|PHI||Citizens Bank Park||2004-2015||4|
|PIT||Three Rivers Stadium||1970-2000||22|
|SDP||Jack Murphy Stadium||1969-2003||16|
|STL||Sportsman’s Park III||1950-1966||8|
|STL||Busch Stadium II||1966-2005||32|
|STL||Busch Stadium III||2006-2015||1|
|TEX||Robert F. Kennedy Stadium||1962-1971||3|
|TEX||Globe Life Park||1994-2015||7|
|WSN||Robert F. Kennedy Stadium||2005-2007||1|
Pinch-Hit Inside-The-Park Home Runs (1950-2015)
Dustan Mohr is the only player with multiple pinch-hit ITPHR. He pulled off this accomplishment in back-to-back seasons (2004-05) for different ball clubs (Giants, Rockies).
Inside-The-Park Grand Slams (1950-2015)
Aaron Altherr ended a streak of fifteen consecutive MLB seasons without an inside-the-park grand slam when he drilled a sinking line drive under the outstretched glove of Nationals’ center fielder Michael A. Taylor.
Game-Ending Inside-The-Park Home Runs (1950-2015)
June 23, 1950 – In a contest which featured a record-breaking 11 circuit clouts, Detroit left fielder Hoot Evers inflicted the decisive stroke in the home half of the ninth frame to cap a 10-9 comeback victory over the Yankees.
June 11, 1965 – Johnny Callison crushed a deep drive to center field and circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the tenth inning off Jim Owens.
August 1, 1966 – It must have felt like Déjà vu for Astros relief pitcher Jim Owens as he was hung with an extra-inning loss for the second straight year at the hands of the Phillies. This time around, Dick Allen blasted a long shot to center, a play marred by a broken elbow and wrist sustained by Jim Wynn when he collided with the fence chasing Allen’s fly ball.
August 2, 1966 – Angels’ third baseman Paul Schaal plastered a Hal Reniff offering over center fielder Mickey Mantle to secure a 6-5 victory over the Yankees in eleven innings.
August 22, 1971 – In game two of a double-dip between the Red Sox and Athletics, Reggie Jackson belted a deep fly ball to center field off Sonny Siebert with two outs in the ninth inning of a 1-1 duel. Jackson scrambled around the bases as the Athletics swept the doubleheader.
August 7, 1972 – Tug McGraw had not allowed a hit in four innings of relief work during a 2-2 stalemate when Ted Sizemore stepped to the dish to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning. Left fielder Cleon Jones whiffed on an attempted shoestring catch of a liner by Sizemore, resulting in a 3-2 victory by the Redbirds.
September 3, 1973 – Another game-ending ITPHR leading off the bottom of the thirteenth inning, except the Cardinals are on the losing end of this one. Richie “Gravedigger” Hebner came to the plate against Eddie Fisher and delivered a game-winning smash to right field to seize a 5-4 win for the Pirates.
April 11, 1977 – The Texas Rangers defeated the Cleveland Indians in ten innings on a one-out inside-the-park home run to left field by third baseman Toby Harrah. Tribe left fielder Buddy Bell was dealt to the Rangers in exchange for Harrah in December, 1978.
May 12, 1978 – The Yankees held a 3-2 lead with two outs in the ninth inning when Ed Figueroa walked Darrell Porter. New York skipper Billy Martin summoned Rich “Goose” Gossage from the bullpen. Amos Otis promptly lofted a fly ball towards right-center field. Paul Blair camped underneath the ball but disaster struck when Reggie Jackson crashed into Blair. The collision jarred the ball from Blair’s glove as Porter and Otis scored to cap a 4-3 comeback victory for the Royals.
June 9, 1979 [highlight video] – Kansas City victimized New York again with the lead role assumed by Willie Wilson. Leading off the bottom of the 13th inning, Wilson served a fly ball to left-center off Ken Clay. Roy White and Mickey Rivers converged but the ball eluded both fielders and rolled to the wall as the Royals defeated the Yankees by a tally of 9-8.
June 12, 1986 – The Blue Jays were leading the Tigers 6-0 when Kelly Gruber stepped to the dish in the bottom of the seventh inning. Facing Bill Scherrer with runners on second and third, Gruber lofted a fly ball towards center fielder Pat Sheridan. The flight path of the ball was obscured by fog, and the ball landed behind Sheridan as Gruber circled the bases. The game was called due to the weather shortly thereafter, with the Jays claiming the 9-0 victory.
May 15, 1989 [highlight video] – A scoreless affair headed into the twelfth inning when Steve Bedrosian served up back-to-back jacks to Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell. Craig Lefferts tried to close out the contest but yielded successive singles to Dickie Thon and Steve Lake. Steve Jeltz was retired on a pop-fly to second baseman Robby Thompson for the second out. Bob Dernier laced a line drive down the left field line. Mitchell made a futile attempt to corral the ball as Thon, Lake and Dernier crossed home plate to procure the comeback victory for the Fightin’ Phillies.
August 1, 1994 [highlight video] – Marquis Grissom cranked a deep fly ball to center field off St. Louis reliever Rich Rodriguez to begin the tenth frame in a 2-2 ballgame. Gerald Young tracked down the ball but it glanced off his glove and bounded away onto the warning track. Young failed to recover the ball cleanly and Grissom sped around the base paths to capture the 3-2 win for the Expos.
August 27, 2000 [highlight video] – Bobby Abreu launched a long shot to deep center field off Giants’ reliever Aaron Fultz to start the bottom of the tenth inning in a 1-1 affair. Calvin Murray made a valiant effort but the ball ticked off his glove and bounced on the warning track towards right-center. Murray retrieved the ball as Abreu scampered around the bases to register the triumphant tally.
August 20, 2001 [highlight video] – Ken Griffey, Jr. took a mighty cut and sent an Andy Benes’ offering towards the center field fence in a 4-4 game between the Cardinals and the Reds. Jim Edmonds sprinted back, leaped and slammed into the fence. Left fielder Kerry Robinson doubled-back towards left field to recover the ball while Griffey motored around the bases to lock down a 5-4 victory for Cincinnati.
June 11, 2004 [highlight video] – In the tenth inning of an interleague contest against Colorado with the score knotted at seven apiece, Tampa Bay second-sacker Rey Sanchez sliced a sinking liner to right field. Jeromy Burnitz attempted a shoestring catch but the ball scooted under his glove and headed towards the right field corner. Burnitz fell down while retrieving the ball and the relay throw was off the mark as Sanchez scooted home for the solo round-tripper.
May 25, 2013 [highlight video] – The Rockies and Giants battled to a 4-4 tie in regulation. Troy Tulowitzki led off the top of the tenth inning with a solo shot off Sergio Romo to give Colorado a 5-4 advantage. Brandon Crawford walked and Guillermo Quiroz sacrificed him over to second base to begin the bottom of the 10th. Angel Pagan crushed the 0-1 delivery from Rafael Betancourt towards the brick wall in right-center field at AT&T Park. The ball caromed off the fence and bounded away from RF Michael Cuddyer. CF Dexter Fowler corralled the baseball and relayed towards home plate, but Pagan’s head-first slide beat the throw and the Giants prevailed, 6-5.
Two or more ITPHR in the same game (1950-2015)
|* by different batters *|
|NY1195006252||Johnny Pramesa off Sal Maglie|
|NY1195006252||Hank Thompson off Willie Ramsdell|
|NY1195008172||Pee Wee Reese off Dave Koslo|
|NY1195008172||Sam Calderone off Erv Palica|
|LAN197206110||Manny Mota off Bruce Kison|
|LAN197206110||Willie Davis off Bruce Kison|
|SLN197606180||Hector Cruz off Randy Jones|
|SLN197606180||Lou Brock off Randy Jones|
|NYA197708270||Toby Harrah off Ken Clay|
|NYA197708270||Bump Wills off Ken Clay|
|NYA198005140||Willie Wilson off Ron Guidry|
|NYA198005140||Bucky Dent off Dennis Leonard|
|TOR198305250||Kirk Gibson off Jim Gott|
|TOR198305250||Jorge Orta off Dan Petry|
|PIT199705260||Sammy Sosa off Francisco Cordova|
|PIT199705260||Tony Womack off Kevin Foster|
|KCA201507080||Jarrod Dyson off Chris Archer|
|KCA201507080||Logan Forsythe off Jeremy Guthrie|
|* same batter, different pitchers *|
|NY1195008160||Hank Thompson off Dan Bankhead|
|NY1195008160||Hank Thompson off Carl Erskine|
|KCA198708250||Ruben Sierra off Buddy Black|
|KCA198708250||Ruben Sierra off Jerry Don Gleaton|
|* same batter, same pitcher *|
|MIN197207310||Dick Allen (2) off Bert Blyleven|
|MIN198610040||Greg Gagne (2) off Floyd Bannister|
References and Resources
Albert, Jim and Max Marchi. Analyzing Baseball Data with R. Boca Raton, FL.: CRC Press, 2014. Print.
Paper of Record – Sporting News – Box Scores and Game Accounts
The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.
About the Author
I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family.
My book “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.
Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of “Hardball Retrospective” are accessible here.