The concept of a cycle is familiar to most fans, even if the event is not particularly common: A player collects a single, double, triple and homer in the same game.
But have you heard of a home run cycle? There’s no shame if you haven’t. Before Wednesday night, it had happened, as far as historians can tell, only once in modern professional baseball history at the affiliated level.
Now it has happened twice. Chandler Redmond of the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals, St. Louis’s Class AA affiliate, hit four home runs in a single game on Wednesday, an epic feat in itself. But making it even rarer, his day included a solo shot, two-run and three-run homers and a grand slam. The home run cycle.
According to Major League Baseball, the only other time a player hit for a home run cycle was in 1998, when Tyrone Horne of the Arkansas Travelers, also a Class AA affiliate of the Cardinals at the time, did it in a road game against San Antonio.
Not content with just the home run cycle, Redmond’s big day also included a run-scoring single, making him 5-for-6 on the night. And his home runs came in four consecutive innings, the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. As you might expect when one man claims 11 runs batted in, the Cardinals won the game, beating the host Amarillo Sod Poodles, 21-4.
Redmond knew about the home run cycle, and said he was thinking about it.
“So after I hit the grand slam, I had a little thought creep into my mind about maybe the cycle. But then I brushed it off real quick. I was like, ‘Come on, this was only my second time with a multihomer game in pro ball,’” he told reporters. “But then I go up there and hit the solo shot and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do it.’ So then walking up for that last at-bat and seeing two guys on, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, everything is lining up, you can do this. So just stay calm and stay within yourself, but if you get a chance to get a ball to hammer, you better not miss it.’”
He did not miss.
The home run cycle has never happened at the major league level. Eighteen players have hit four homers in game, but the base runners never aligned quite correctly for a home run cycle. Though it once came awfully close. On April 2, 1997, Tino Martinez of the Yankees had hit three home runs in a road game against the Seattle Mariners, going in reverse order from three-run to two-run to solo homer. He got to bat three more times in the game, coming up with the bases loaded twice in the top of the ninth inning. But in those two chances for the home run cycle he came away with a run-scoring walk and an inning-ending strikeout.
Indeed, only two of the four-homer games included a grand slam: Mark Whiten’s for the Cardinals in 1993 and Scooter Gennett’s for the Reds in 2017. Both of those men came pretty close to the home run cycle. Gennett had a slam, two two-run shots and a solo homer, collecting 10 R.B.I. Whiten, in a way, did too much: He had a slam, two three-run shots and a two-run blast, finishing the day with 12 R.B.I.
The four-homer game itself is actually rarer than a perfect game (23 in major league history, by the current definition). So even in a homer-happy era, don’t expect home run cycles to start occurring frequently, or at all, in the majors.
Redmond, 25, was drafted in the 32nd round in 2019 by the Cardinals out of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. A first baseman, he had come into Wednesday’s game hitting .228 with 13 homers.
It isn’t known yet if his big night will kick start his quest for the majors. But it is surely not a guarantee: Horne, his predecessor in performing the feat, never made it past Class AAA while playing for seven M.L.B. organizations, plus independent leagues and in South Korea.