Not so very long ago home runs were the defining trait of baseball. Guys would hit 50 a year no sweat, but that came to an end with the end of the so-called steroid era. So Major League baseball days like Wednesday don’t come around too often anymore.
Days when not just one player, but two players, hit three homers in a game. Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals smashed three home runs against the Baltimore Orioles while Dioner Navarro bashed three homers for the Chicago Cubs in a 9-3 triumph over the Chicago White Sox.
They are both unlikely characters to be doing the Roger Maris imitation. Remarkably, Zimmerman and Navarro each only had three homers for the entire season going into their games. Now they both have six overnight. As it has been said many, many times about baseball–Go figure.
It’s not as if the home run has become an endangered species. There are still enough of them to go around, but really, 30 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 50, and anything more than that forget about it. Neither one of these players is a traditional slugger, though Zimmerman comes a lot closer. Still, you have to wonder if either ever dreamed of having a three-homer day in the majors.
Certainly not Navarro, who isn’t even a starter. He was just filling in as the backup catcher behind Welington Castillo and Cubs manager Dale Sveum immediately blew out the candles on the cake by saying that nothing has changed, Navarro is still the backup.
Of course when such an unusual occurrence breaks out a player is asked to probe his memory to come up with something comparable he has accomplished in his baseball career. So Navarro was asked if he had ever hit three homers in a game at any level of play. Nope. He said he hit two in a Little League game once, though. That was the best he could muster in reaching back for comparison in his limited slugging career.
Navarro is from Venezuela and he has been in the majors for 10 years. In that time he has produced 47 homers–lifetime, not in a season. So this was very much a day in the sun at the plate for him and to say it will never be repeated is not a stretch.
Zimmerman is not even the most famous Zimmerman on his team. That would be pitcher Jordan Zimmerman. Worse for Ryan Zimmerman Wednesday was that despite his three home runs his team lost the game, 9-6, so he couldn’t get full enjoyment out of his feat.
However, the Nationals’ third baseman is a little bit more used to the home-run trot than Navarro. He may have just six homers in 39 games this year, but spread over nine seasons he has 159 dingers. Five times he has hit more than 20 in a year with a high of 33. Zimmerman’s emotions were a bit jumbled after the game.
“It’s tough to have a night like that and not be able to kind of celebrate or have fun with it because we lost,” he said.
That’s true, but no one can say that Zimmerman didn’t do his share.