Matthew Taylor: Examining a homer-happy week at Camden Yards

What a week for home runs in Baltimore. Josh Hamilton became only the 16th player to hit four home runs in a game Tuesday. Two days later, the Orioles established an American League record by homering in the team’s first three at-bats of a doubleheader against the Rangers. Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis did the early yard work for the Birds. Overall, the O’s hit five home runs in a game for the first time since June 30, 2010, against Oakland. That’s two short of the club record of seven home runs in one game.

Baltimore’s franchise-best seven home run day happened against the Boston Red Sox on May 17, 1967 (the single game records page on the Orioles’ Web site currently lists the date incorrectly as May 7, 1967). Playing at Fenway Park before less than 9,000 fans, the Orioles got homers from seven different players: Paul Blair, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Davey Johnson, Andy Etchebarren and pinch-hitter Sam Bowens. Think about that: seven total home runs from seven different players. Each of the team’s three through seven hitters went deep.

Four of the Orioles’ seven home runs came in the same inning. Etchebarren, Bowens, Powell and Johnson kept Boston fans waiting for the seventh-inning stretch. The Birds entered the seventh trailing 6-3 but put nine runs on the board in their half of the frame to take the lead for good in a 12-8 victory.

Bowens, a back-up outfielder, hit five home runs total during the 1967 season, which means his team produced more homers in one game than he did in 62 games. Etchebarren, meanwhile, had seven home runs in 1967, so the team hit as many homers in one game as he did in 112 games.

It should be noted that despite his power outage in ‘67, Bowens held the Orioles’ rookie record for home runs for nearly 20 years. His career-best 22 dingers in 1964 stood as the best rookie effort until Cal Ripken Jr. eclipsed the mark with 28 home runs in 1982.

And how’s this for historical parity? On Thursday, the Orioles followed up their five-home run effort in Game 1 of the doubleheader by hitting only four singles in Game 2; they failed to advance a runner past second base in all but one inning. In 1967, the Orioles followed up their seven-home run effort by hitting only three singles in their next game, a 2-0 loss to the Washington Senators, and didn’t advance a runner past first base.

The 1967 Orioles hit 138 home runs overall, the third-best total in the 10-team American League. Frank Robinson, who one year earlier whacked 49 homers as part of his Triple Crown season, led the way again for the Birds in ‘67 with 30 home runs.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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