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How Possible Is a Five-Homer Game?

A recent post in the Effectively Wild Facebook group sparked my curiosity. A poster named Tim wrote: “Record I’d like to see set that isn’t inconceivable: Player gets 5 HR in a single game.” That record is not inconceivable, because it has been accomplished at least five times in the minor leagues.

In fact, the professional baseball record is eight home runs in a single game, set by catcher Jay Clarke of the Corsicana Oil Cities in a 51-3 win over the Texarkana Casketmakers in a Texas League contest in 1902. The last minor leaguer to hit five homers in a single game was Dick Lane of the Muskegon Clippers in 1948.

Known Five-Homer Games
Date Player Team Opponent Outcome League HRs Hit
6/15/1902 Jay “Nig” Clarke Corsicana Oil Cities Texarkana Casketmakers W, 51-3 Texas League 8
5/11/1923 Pete Schneider Vernon Tigers Salt Lake City Bees W, 35-11 Pacific Coast League 5
5/30/1934 Lou Frierson Paris Pirates Jacksonville Jax L, 17-12 West Dixie League 5
4/29/1936 Cecil Dunn Alexandria Aces Lake Charles Skippers W, 28-5 Evangeline League 5
7/3/1948 Dick Lane Muskegon Clippers Fort Wayne Generals W, 28-6 Central League 5

But of course the poster was in all likelihood talking about the MLB record of four in a game, which has stood since 1894. But it was a commenter on the post that really piqued my interest. They simply asked: “Would a team really continue pitching to a guy who’s already had 4 HR in a game though?”

It’s a valid question to ask, and it set me down a rabbit hole of seeing just how many players had a plate appearance with four homers already in a game, and how those plate appearances went. Looking back at history isn’t necessarily the best way to predict future behavior, but it is a fun exercise if nothing else, because frankly, before conducting this research I had no idea how many players ever had a crack at a fifth home run. Read the rest of this entry »