June 1, 2023

1996 Orioles Set Major League Home Run Record

April 23, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

The 1996 Baltimore Orioles and their home run totals (left to right) Roberto Alomar (22), Todd Zeile (25), Chris Hoiles (25), Cal Ripken Jr. (26), Eddie Murray (22), Bobby Bonilla (28), B.J. Surhoff (21), Brady Anderson (50) and Rafael Palmeiro (39).

The 1996 Baltimore Orioles and their home run totals (left to right) Roberto Alomar (22), Todd Zeile (25), Chris Hoiles (25), Cal Ripken Jr. (26), Eddie Murray (22), Bobby Bonilla (28), B.J. Surhoff (21), Brady Anderson (50) and Rafael Palmeiro (39).

The 1996 Baltimore Orioles featured a star-studded lineup with unprecedented power.

The club bashed 257 home runs, shattering the previous mark of 240 by the mighty 1961 New York Yankees. Seven Orioles slugged 20 or more round-trippers. They were Brady Anderson (50); Rafael Palmeiro (39); Bobby Bonilla (28); Cal Ripken Jr. (26); Chris Hoiles (25); Roberto Alomar (22) and B.J. Surhoff (21).

Late-season acquisitions Eddie Murray and Todd Zeile also ended up with more than 20 homers. Murray, acquired on July 21 from the Indians, clouted 10 of his 22 homers as an Oriole, and Todd Zeile knocked 5 of his 25 home runs as a Bird after being traded from Philadelphia on Aug. 29.

Late in the season, Cal Ripken Jr. said, “I’ve never been part of a lineup that had the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and score runs as readily as this one does. When you’re in a lineup that hits this many homers, it takes the pressure off.”

The Orioles scored a team record 949 runs (100 more than any other Orioles team). They scored 10 or more runs on 30 occasions. But, despite their power and offense, the club finished second in the AL East with an 88-74 record. The team’s 5.14 ERA was its Achilles heel.

Here are some home run highlights of that memorable season.

April 18-21: Brady Anderson clouts leadoff homers in four consecutive games. The four-baggers come against Boston at Baltimore and in a three-game series at Texas. The Orioles, however, lose all four games.

At the end of April, Anderson has 11 home runs, eclipsing Frank Robinson’s record of 10 for the month.

May 17: Catcher Chris Hoiles slams an “ultimate grand slam” in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs against the Seattle Mariners in front of 47,529 fans at Camden Yards.

Trailing 13-10 going into the bottom of the ninth, Alomar walks, Palmeiro fans and Bonilla doubles against reliever Norm Charlton. Billy Ripken fouls out and Cal Ripken walks to load the bases. The hitless Hoiles works Charlton to a full count before he deposits the next pitch into left field, unleashing an raucous celebration.

Sept. 6: Eddie Murray, who returned to Baltimore in late July after a seven-and-a-half year absence, blasts his 500th home run at Camden Yards. He joins Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

Murray slams the first pitch from Detroit Tigers’ Felipe Lira for a round-tripper in the bottom of the seventh inning. The crowd gives him an eight-and-a-half minute ovation.

Sept. 15: The Orioles surpass the Yankees’ home run mark of 240 as they clout five dingers in Detroit en route to a 16-6 win. Anderson homers in the first, Cal Ripken Jr. adds two blasts and Bonilla notches a grand slam. But it is backup catcher Mark Parent’s homer off Todd Van Poppel in the third inning that sets the record. It’s Parent’s first homer in 11 games with the Orioles.

“It seems kind of weird ,” said Parent afterward. “It should have been Cal or Brady. But, I’m just happy to join the fun.”

Manager Davey Johnson said, “The home run record doesn’t mean a whole lot.” He did admit to taking some pleasure in breaking a mark held by the New York Yankees.

Sept. 29: Brady Anderson clouts home run No. 50, breaking Frank Robinson’s team record of 49 and becoming only the 14th player in major league history to reach that plateau. Hall of Famers, such as Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Ernie Banks, never hit that many in a season.

Anderson, who had never hit more than 21 homers in a season, touches Toronto’s Pat Hentgen for a solo blast in the first inning.

Anderson sets an AL record with 12 leadoff homers (since broken by Alfonso Soriano in 2003) and ties Bobby Bonds for the most homers from the leadoff spot with 35.

Interestingly, only 19 of Anderson’s 50 round-trippers come at cozy Camden Yards. He never hits more than 24 homers in a season the rest of his career.

The outfielder ends 1996 with career highs in average (.297), hits (172), doubles (37), RBI (110), runs (116) and on-base percentage (.396).

Roberto Alomar sets a club record with 132 runs, while Rafael Palmeiro registers a team record 142 RBI.

In the post-season, the Orioles defeated the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, three games to one, before falling to the Yankees in the ALCS, four games to one.

The Orioles team home run record was short-lived. The Seattle Mariners erased it the following season, clouting 264 round-trippers. The current record is held by the 2019 Minnesota Twins with 307 homers.

Looking back on 1996, home runs were up 15% in major league baseball, the Orioles played in a hitter-friendly ballpark and it was amid the steroid era. But, what a glorious, fun season it was.


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