Dominican On Dominican Crime – Grand Slams By One DR Player Off Another
Watching last night’s Orioles-Rangers game, I was excited in an otherwise awful contest (from a Baltimore perspective) to see the 2009 debut of right-hander Radhames Liz, who’d just been recalled from Triple-A. Unfortunately for Mr. Liz (and us O’s fans), his first pitch was hammered for a grand slam by Nelson Cruz. Now Cruz, like Liz, was born in the Dominican Republic, so I set out to discover how many times that had happened before.
Let’s begin with a little general history of Dominican players and their grand slams. The next Dominican-born big leaguer will be the 475th, and players from the D.R. have hammered 9,438 home runs in the majors. Roughly half the players from that country are pitchers.
Now, the first Dominican to hit a grand slam in the majors was Felipe Alou of the Giants. It came against the Cubs Dick Ellsworth on May 15, 1961. More than five-dozen of Alou’s countrymen have hit at least one, with the tally around 200 overall. Here are leaders:
Most Grand Slams By A Dominican-born Player
20 – Manny Ramirez
11 – Miguel Tejada
10 – George Bell
9 – Tony Batista
9 – Sammy Sosa
8 – Julio Franco
8 – David Ortiz
8 – Aramis Ramirez
7 – Adrian Beltre
6 – Albert Pujols & Fernando Tatis
My favorite all-time player, Joaquin Andujar, is the only Dominican pitcher to hit one. Even more impressive –Andujar never surrendered one in 2153 innings.
Roberto Pena, Frank Taveras and Luis Polonia all hit inside-the-park grand slams, while Rick Joseph, George Bell, Henry Rodriguez and Carlos Pena all hit walkoff shots with the sacks full. I can’t resist mentioning that Bell’s blast came off Mitch Williams.
The most famous Dominican grand slam feat was turned it by Fernando Tatis of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 23, 1999. Not only did Tatis hit two grand slams in a single game at Dodger Stadium; he hit them off the same pitcher…in the same inning!! (Chan Ho Park was the unlucky hurler)
Back to idea of Dominicans hitting grand slams off Dominican pitchers. It’s happened 18 times since Ozzie Virgil became the country’s first son to reach the majors in 1956 –five of them in the 2000 season alone. Al Reyes is the only pitcher to serve up round trippers to one of his countrymen with the bases juiced, while only one batsman has ever hit more than one off a paisano. Miguel Tejada did it –not twice, not three times– but four times against his Dominican brethren. No wonder Tejada is known as “La Gua Gua”. (“The Bus”, as in, he’s going to drive you home).
Here is the complete list of grand slams hit by one Dominican-born player off another:
6/28/1983 – PEDRO GUERRERO (Dodgers) off ELIAS SOSA (@ Padres)
8/19/1995 – NELSON LIRIANO (@ Pirates) off YORKIS PEREZ (Marlins)
6/11/1999 – JUAN ENCARNACION (Tigers) off MANNY AYBAR (@ Cardinals)
4/20/2000 – SAMMY SOSA (Cubs) off MIGUEL BATISTA (@ Expos)
4/27/2000 – HENRY RODRIGUEZ (Cubs) off JOSE LIMA (@ Astros)
5/21/2000 – ADRIAN BELTRE (Dodgers) off JESUS SANCHEZ (@ Marlins)
9/7/2000 – DAVID ORTIZ (Twins) off RAMON MARTINEZ (@ Red Sox)
9/30/2000 – MIGUEL TEJADA (@ Athletics) off FRANCISCO CORDERO (Rangers)
9/29/2001 – MIGUEL TEJADA (@ Athletics) off JOSE PANIAGUA (Mariners)
9/9/2002 – JOSE GUILLEN (@ Reds) off AL REYES (Pirates)
8/7/2003 – ENRIQUE WILSON (@ Yankees) off JOAQUIN BENOIT (Rangers)
9/15/2003 – MIGUEL TEJADA (Athletics) off RAMON ORTIZ (@ Angels)
9/25/2004 – PEDRO FELIZ (@ Giants) off YHENCY BRAZOBAN (Dodgers)
6/27/2005 – JULIO FRANCO (Braves) off VALERIO DE LOS SANTOS (@ Marlins)
7/24/2005 – NEIFI PEREZ (Cubs) off AL REYES (@ Cardinals)
5/19/2006 – TONY BATISTA (Twins) off JOSE CAPELLAN (@ Brewers)
9/10/2008 – MIGUEL TEJADA (@ Astros) off DENNY BAUTISTA (Pirates)
4/15/2009 – NELSON CRUZ (@ Rangers) off RADHAMES LIZ (Orioles)
by Mal Allen