Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill hit for the cycle for the second time in days last week sending pundits everywhere scurrying. Now for you casual observers of baseball, the cycle is when a player gets a single, double, triple and home run all in the same game. Not an easy thing to do, especially that triple.
This particular pundit scurried to the Red Sox record book to check out Red Sox players who have hit for the cycle, especially at Fenway Park. What I found was quite interesting. First, ponder this, the next time you make your way to see a Red Sox game, you are just as likely to see a Red Sox no-hitter as you are to see a Red Sox batter hit for the cycle, for each has happened 20 times.
Red Sox outfielder Buck Freeman was their first player to hit for the cycle way back in 1903 when he also led the nascent American League in home runs and RBI while leading the Sox to the World Championship in the first World Series ever played.
A little over a month later, Patsy Dougherty (do you think he was Irish ?) became the second player in Red Sox history to hit for the cycle. he led the team in hitting in ought three with a .331 average.
It would not happen again to a Red Sox player until 1912, Fenway’s Park first year, and it would not happen by a Red Sox player at Fenway Park until 1944. Imagine that, it took 32 years before a Red Sox player performed this feat at Fenway! And it happened seven times on the road before that took place.
Tris Speaker did it in 1912 at St. Louis.
Roy Carlyle’s career consisted of only 174 games played (138 of them with the Red Sox) but in one of those games in 1925, he hit for the cycle at Commiskey Park against the White Sox.
Julius “Moose” Solters did the trick in as a rookie in 1934 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
Player/manager and Hall of Famer Joe Cronin hit for the cycle in 1940, also at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
Center fielder Leon Culberson did it out of the leadoff spot in Cleveland on July 3, 1943.
Bobby Doerr was Fenway’s first cycle hitter and he accomplished the feat in the second game of a doubleheader on May 17, 1944 against the St. Louis Browns. He has singled, doubled and tripled when he came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning and hit a two run homer. It brought the Sox closer but they lost the game 12-8.
Six weeks after Doerr’s cycle at Fenway Park, left fielder Bob Johnson became the second Red Sox player to do it at Fenway. It was the sixth of July and the Tigers were in town and oddly enough Bobby Doerr almost did it again in the same game, going four for four with two singles , a double and a triple. The Red Sox won 13-3.
The Splendid Splinter himself accomplished his one and only cycle in July of 1946, at home against the St. Louis Browns. It led the Sox to a 7-4 win and a double-header sweep.
On May 13, 1947, Bobby Doerr hit for the cycle a second time leading a 19-6 drubbing of the White Sox at Fenway Park. He is the only player in Red Sox history to accomplish this feat twice.
It would be 15 years before another Sox player hit for the cycle, Lu Clinton did it in Kansas City in 1962. He tripled in the second, doubled in the fourth, singled in the ninth and homered in the tenth as the Red Sox battled back from a 9-2 deficit and won the game 11-10 in 15 innings.
In May of 1965, the Tigers were in town and Carl Yastrzemski added his name to the Red Sox cycle list. He did it by cranking out a home run in the first inning, another in the second, a triple in the sixth, a single in the eighth and a double in the bottom of the tenth. The Sox came up short in this game, 12-8 surrendering four to Detroit in the top of the tenth.
Fourteen more years would pass before Bob Watson hit for the cycle in Baltimore on September 15, 1979. He finished it off with a two run homer in the ninth inning of a 10-2 win.
A rash of cycles followed in the 1980s and all of them at Fenway Park.
Freddy Lynn was first on May 13, 1980 against the Twins. He went four for five with four RBI leading the Sox to a come from behind 10-5 win.
Dwight Evans added his name to the list four years later in a most dramatic fashion, a three run walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning against Seattle.
Catcher Rich Gedman hit for his cycle a little over a year later in September of 1985, going four for five with seven RBI to lead a 13-1 pounding of the Blue Jays.
Three Septembers later left fielder Mike Greenwell joined the club in a game against the Orioles. His was a four for four effort in a 4-3 win. He went homer, double, triple and singled in the bottom of the eighth to finish the task.
Third baseman Scott Cooper became the 18th Red Sox player to hit for the cycle on April 12, 1994 in Kansas City against the Royals. He went five for six with five RBI in a 22-11 win.
The last Red Sox player to hit for the cycle was shortstop John Valentin. His came on June 6, 1996 and it came against the White Sox at Fenway Park. The shortstop went four for four in a 7-4 win and he accomplished his cycle in just six innings. A homer in the first, a triple in the third, a single in the fourth and a double in the sixth and he was done.
Two years earlier, Valentin had etched his name in baseball immortality when he snagged a line drive off the bat of Seattle’s DH Marc Newfield, stepped on second for out number two and then tagged Kevin Mitchell who was running on the play completing the rarest of defensive feats, an unassisted triple play.
It has been 16 years and 26 days since a Red Sox player has hit for the cycle, the longest drought between cycles in Red Sox history. The previous longest stretch was from Doerr’s cycle on May 13, 1947 to Clinton’s on July 13, 1962.
One has occurred on an average of every five and a half years, so they are overdue by over 10 years. Hmmmm, maybe this year, whose your pick? I’m going with Pedroia!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, July 2, 2012,.