I was a Senators' fan growing up, but my favorite non-Washington player was Rocky Colavito.
Rocky, a genuine slugger who was frequently overshadowed by better hitters like Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams in the American League, enjoyed his career night on this date 51 years ago in Baltimore's old Memorial Stadium.
On a Wednesday night, June 10, 1059, Rocky connected for four home runs off of 3 Baltimore pitchers: one off of Jerry Walker, two off of Arnie Portocarrero and the last one off of Ernie Johnson. The Indians won the ballgame 11-8.
What you may not know is that in 1959, there was no inner fence at Memorial Stadium. For a righthanded hitter to reach the bleacher seats in left was one thing; to hit it over the hedges in left center-to-centerfield was something else entirely.
Colavito ended up tied for the league lead in homers with Washington's Harmon Killebrew that season with 42, and clearly, that night had a lot to do with it.
Rocky's career ended in 1968. He finished with 374 home runs, 1,159 RBI, and a .266 BA. Every 162 games he averaged 33 HR and 102 RBI, which might've rated some Hall of Fame consideration had he ever appeared in post-season play. In the late 1950's through the mid 1960's, his was a household name, take my word for it.
Incredibly - in my mind, anyway - Rocky turns 77 this August. I'll wish him a happy 51st anniversary in advance of that, and hope he's around for many, many more. Only 15 men have homered 4 times in a game in baseball history, a feat rarer than a perfect game or an unassisted triple play. Colavito was the 8th man to do it, and it would be terrific if the Orioles would bring Rocky back to town on one of these future June tenths.