Fernando Tatis' two-grand slam inning: Eight fascinating facets of that game

Baseball St. Louis Cardinals Two pretty amazing things happened for Fernando Tatis in 1999. On the second day of the year, his son — current San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. — was born, and in his team’s 15th game of the baseball season, the new dad did something that had never been done in the history of the sport. It hasn’t been done since and might never happen again. Tatis, playing third base for the Cardinals, hit two grand slams in the same inning against the Dodgers, in Dodger Stadium, on April 23, 1999. MORE: Remembering the biggest extra-inning comeback in historyIt was amazing then and it’s amazing now. To recognize those eight RBIs on two swings of the bat, we’re going to look at eight fascinating facets of that accomplishment. First, though, let’s watch. 1. Both grand slams were hit off Chan Ho ParkLet’s start here, because this is probably the most incredible part of the entire situation. Well, the most incredible thing other than Tatis actually hitting two grand slams in the same inning. Try to imagine any scenario in today’s game in which any manager lets any pitcher stick around in an inning long enough to even be in position to give up two grand slams to the same player.  Park faced 13 batters in that third inning. Here’s how his own frame from hell played out:1. Single, Darren Bragg2. Hit by pitch, Edgar Renteria3. Single, Mark McGwire4. Grand Slam, Fernando Tatis5. Groundout, J.D. Drew6. Home run, Eli Marrero7. Walk, Placido Polanco8. Walk, Joe McEwing9. Fielder’s choice/Sac bunt, Jose Jimenez (reached safely on a misplay by Park)10. E3, Bragg (throwing error)11. Single, Renteria12. Flyout, McGwire13. Grand slam, TatisCarlos Perez finally replaced Park and retired Drew to mercifully end the frame. 2. Before Tatis, McGwire had his shotBefore Park even faced Tatis for a second time, manager Davey Johnson had a dilemma. Park had already faced 11 batters in the third inning and seven of them had scored. The bases were loaded for Mark McGwire — who hit a line drive deep into the outfield for a single in his first AB of the inning — with two outs, but Johnson left Park in the game anyway. Now, remember, this was PEAK BIG MAC. Yeah, I used all caps. PEAK BIG MAC deserved all the capital letters we can give him.McGwire, you might remember, had hit 70 home runs in the previous year, 58 the year before that and 52 the year before that. And in his first 13 games of the young 1999 season, McGwire already had five home runs and a .431 on-base percentage. That’s 185 home runs in 454 games leading up to that at-bat. Undaunted, Johnson kept his struggling right-hander in the game. McGwire put the ball in the air, but Raul Mondesi caught it for the second out. Just because you get the desired result doesn’t mean the decision was correct.3. Jose Jimenez’s shining moment was still to comeCardinals starter Jose Jimenez was solid in this contest, going seven innings and allowing three earned runs. It was his third consecutive seven-inning outing to start the 1999 season, and his ERA stood at a respectable 2.95 after the contest. Things quickly turned sour. In his next 11 starts covering 59 1/3 innings, Jimenez gave up 53 earned runs — a barf-worthy 8.04 ERA — 73 hits and 31 walks, with only 32 strikeouts. And then Jimenez took the mound in Arizona on July 25 and turned in one of the most shocking no-hitters in baseball history. In that game — pitching opposite Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, by the way — Jimenez needed just 101 pitches to shut down the Diamondbacks, striking out six and walking just two in his brilliant effort. That Arizona team, you’ll remember, won 100 games in 1999 and featured Luis Gonzalez (.336, 137 OPS+, 6.4 bWAR) Matt Williams (35 homers, 142 RBIs), Steve Finley (34 homers, 4.9 bWAR) and J

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ay Bell (38 homers, .931 OPS). All four of those guys were in the lineup against Jimenez. In his first post-no-hitter start, in Houston, Jimenez was chased in the fifth inning, having allowed seven runs on seven hits. He finished the year with a 5.85 ERA and was traded to the Rockies in the offseason, part of a seven-player deal that brought Darryl Kile to St. Louis.4. Tatis had an outstanding overall 1999 seasonTatis signed with the Rangers at 17 out of the Dominican Republic and he made his big league debut five years later, batting seventh in a lineup that featured future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez and stars Juan Gonzalez and Will Clark. His first at-bat ended in an infield single that drove home a run. He was traded to the Cardinals the next summer in a deal that sent Royce Clayton — the shortstop Tony La Russa picked to succeed Ozzie Smith at the position — and Todd Stottlemyre to Texas. Tatis hit well in his half-season with the Cardinals, posting a 127 OPS+ and popping eight homers in 55 games. That set the stage for his breakout 1999 season. The third-inning outburst helped his final numbers, of course, but he still had an outstanding season, batting mostly fifth — and sometimes fourth — in the Cardinals lineup. Mark McGwire and his 65 homers were in the 3-hole, by the way. Tatis finished the year with 34 homers, 107 RBIs, a .298 average, .957 OPS and 139 OPS+. The Cardinals thought highly of him, and so did other teams. Bet you didn’t know this …It would have looked odd to see Ken Griffey Jr., in a Cardinals uniform, eh? The Cardinals were interested, though, according to the Nov. 22, 1999 issue of The Sporting News. pic.twitter.com/XP2FPUGPMn— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) April 19, 2019Unfortunately, he only played 96 games in 2000 because of injuries, and after that season he was traded to the Expos for Dustin Hermanson and Steve Kline as the Cardinals tried to find pitching help. Injuries, though, remained a theme, and after a couple of seasons in Montreal, Tatis spend the 2004 and 2005 seasons at home in the Dominican Republic. He came back with the Orioles in 2006, spent the 2007 season back in the minors with the Mets and then spent most of 2008-10 seasons as a bench player for the Mets. 5. Park gave up other memorable homers, tooChan Ho Park had a very solid major-league career. He really did. The right-hander from South Korea made his big league debut at 20 years old and threw his final pitch in the majors at 37. He made an All-Star team, took the mound for 287 career starts and even had a 2.61 ERA in 13 career playoff relief appearances. But he’ll always be known for four home runs. These two grand slams hit by Tatis, and two hit by a certain record-setting slugger. Park started Game 160 for the Dodgers in 2001, a contest in San Francisco. Barry Bonds had already tied Mark McGwire’s single-season record of 70 by then, and he wasted no time moving in front of Big Mac that day. In the first inning, with two outs and the bases empty, Bonds blasted No. 71, to the deepest part of the ballpark in right center. “I’ve played against Chan Ho Park, and he’s never really pitched around me,” Bonds said, in this video celebrating his accomplishment. “I didn’t want to get overwhelmed by it, or overexcited about it. But I knew that Chan Ho was going to give me an opportunity. The only one who was going to mess it up was going to be me.”Park gave him the opportunity, and Bonds didn’t mess it up. He hit No. 72 leading off the bottom of the third, sending a breaking ball over the center-field fence. Legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully said this, moments after the blast. “It’s like batting practice for Bonds against Chan Ho Park.”6. Like father(s), like son(s)You know all about Tatis’ son, Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres called him up for Opening Day 2019 — damn the service time implications — and he was a bolt of energy from the very start of his big-league career. The Junior Tatis hit .317 with a 154 OPS+, 22 homers, 16 stolen bases and a 4.2 bWAR despite playing just 84 games, in his Age 20 season. And in 2020's shortened season, Tatis Jr. finished fourth in the NL MVP race, popping 17 homers with a 157 OPS+ and 2.8 bWAR in 59 games. Then, in the 2020 offseason, he agreed to a 14-year, $330 million contract with the Padres. Not a bad start to a career. Did we mention he's still only 22? Tatis Jr. was born on Jan. 2, 1999, which made him just shy of 4 months old when his dad made baseball history. It’s fitting, probably, that the elder Tatis’ birthday is Jan. 1 (1975), and they celebrate on back-to-back days. But he’s wasn't the only future big-leaguer whose father played in this one. Raul Mondesi won the NL Rookie of the Year award for the Dodgers in 1994, and he was in the middle of a stretch of nine consecutive years with at least 24 home runs. In 1999, he set career bests with 33 homers, 99 RBIs and 36 stolen bases. His son Adalberto Mondesi was the first player in history to make his debut in a World Series game, as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 2015 World Series. Mondesi led the AL in triples in 2019 — despite playing just 102 games — and led the circuit with 24 stolen bases in 2020.7. Shannon nailed the callsMike Shannon is a Cardinals icon. He was the third baseman for the World Series-winning squads in 1964 and 1967 and has been broadcasting Cardinals games in some way, shape or form since 1972; 2021 is his final year in the booth. So it was only fitting that he was behind the microphone for this dramatic third inning. And he nailed both calls with typical Mike Shannon gusto. “Power against power here. A fastball to Tatis, with the bases loaded, no one out, 2-0 the count, that would be my guess, and I think that’s what Tatis is looking for. Let’s see how they play it. Park is set. He kicks and delivers. Fastball, and it’s a graaaaaand slam!”Classic. And then we hear a familiar voice chime in. “That went over the bullpen! That went over the back wall of the bullpen.”Shannon isn’t so sure: “Naw, I don’t think it went that far, did it, Joe?”Yep. Joe, as in Joe Buck. Long before he was Fox Sports’ voice of, well, everything, he followed in his dad’s footsteps on Cardinals broadcasts. By 1999 he had been working at Fox for a few years but still calling Cardinals games, too. Shannon’s call for grand slam No. 2 was just as exciting. “Tatis could make it an 11-run inning here in the third. The Cardinals have already scored seven. And the pitch, the runners go, the 3-2 … Tatis … swing and a long one! There it is, folks! Baseball history! A second grand slam home run for Fernando Tatis in the third inning in Los Angeles, California and the Cardinals lead 11-2. Wow. Woow-oow. Get those record books out, folks. The date: April the 23rd, 1999, and we’ve just seen Fernando Tatis hit two grand slam home runs off Chan Ho Park in the third inning. A hanging slider, and the fans here at Dodger Stadium are giving him a standing ovation!”8. Odds and endsJust a couple of other things about the game that were interesting.J.D. Drew went 2-for-4 on the day for the Cardinals, including a home run of his own. But he made two of the three outs in that third inning. The Dodgers had three former Rookie of the Year winners come to the plate that day — Raul Mondesi, Eric Karros and Todd Hollandsworth. Cardinals catcher Eli Marrero went 2-for-5 with a home run to raise his batting average to .341 on the young season, but then went just 4-for-43 (.093) in his next 15 games, and he finished the year with a .192 average. Adrian Beltre was a 20-year-old third baseman for the Dodgers, still at the start of his first full year in the majors. He went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI in the contest.

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