We begin with the story of Pete Milne, the “only major leaguer to ever stroke a pinch-hit inside-the-park grand slam,” as the Mobile Register explained back in 1996: “On April 27, 1949 Milne put himself in the major league record books. Playing at the Polo Grounds he struck the only pinch-hit inside-the-park grand slam home run in major league history. It led the Giants to a win over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“I went to spring training with the Giants after finishing the 1949 season with them,” Milne said. “And in April, against Pat McLaughlin of Brooklyn, I hit the bases-loaded, pinch-hit inside-the-park grand slam homer.”
That is that story. A longer one was told in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of Monday, May 4, 1998:
The Mariners set aside an entire weekend for their kid fans, and catcher Dan Wilson joined in the festivities by riding a two-day cycle.
Wilson hit a rare inside-the-park grand slam yesterday afternoon to go along with his single, double and triple Saturday night as the M’s won the final two games of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers and climbed out of the American League West basement.
Wilson’s second career inside-the-park homer came in the first inning when Seattle supplied left-hander Randy Johnson with a five-run lead. The M’s expanded it to an eight-run cushion with five more runs in the second inning – three on an Edgar Martinez homer – and then held off the Tigers, 10-6, before 44,488 at the Kingdome.
Wilson’s slam ended a nine-pitch battle with Tigers right-hander Frank Castillo.
After fouling off four consecutive outside pitches on a 2-and-2 count, Wilson clobbered a hanging curve, rocketing it into the gap in left-center field. Left fielder Luis Gonzalez nearly made a sensational catch at the wall, but the ball hit the fence and bounced away from both Gonzalez and center fielder Brian Hunter, who was shading Wilson to right-center.
“When Danny hit it, I knew there was no way the center fielder was going to catch it,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said. “But their left fielder made a good effort to come as close as he did.”
The ball rolled toward center field and Wilson kept running.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Wilson said. “I didn’t know where the ball was when I got to second base, and I picked up the coach (Steve Smith) who was waving me on.”
Wilson raced into third base and then chugged the remaining 90 feet.
“I just kept going,” he said.
As he went past third base, the fireworks prematurely exploded overhead.
Wilson easily beat the throw, sliding home with the major league’s 171st inside – the – park grand slam and the first in seven seasons.
After the jaunt was completed and Wilson caught his breath in the dugout, M’s pitching coach Stan Williams fanned Wilson with a towel.
“It’s a weird feeling. A strange feeling, like there is no oxygen in the stadium after that,” said Wilson, who hit his first career insider last Sept. 10. Against the Tigers. At the Kingdome. With Hunter playing center field.
“I swear, it happened the same way,” said Hunter comparing the two. “He fouled off four or five pitches and then hit a ball in exactly the same place. He gets some nice bounces here.
“Once the ball starts rolling on this stuff (artifical turf), all you can do is chase it. This is the second time (Wilson) has done this. Next time, I guess I’ll play him straightaway.”
Wilson, batting with two outs, fell behind 0-and-2 before settling into a battle royal with Castillo.
“He just kept battling and I tried to make a good pitch,” Castillo said. “On the last pitch, I figured he must be sitting on a fastball. I tried to do too much with a curve and hung it up there. I think I could have hit it – that’s how bad it was – and it pretty much did me in.”
Here are the 9 inside-the-park grand slams that preceded Wilson’s:
8/28/91 Chico Walker Cubs
9/1/90 Mike Greenwell Red Sox
8/14/90 Luis Polonia Angels
6/2/89 Junior Felix Blue Jays
6/21/87 Bob Brower Rangers
6/9/85 Terry Pendleton Cardinals
7/19/82 Tom Brunansky Twins
9/26/80 Ben Oglivie Brewers
6/10/79 Jim Essian Athletics
On July 25, 2011, the Salt Lake Bees had one as well. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote:
When was the last time anyone witnessed an inside-the-park grand slam — that wasn’t in Little League? Like, never.
“I never did,” said Bees starting pitcher Jerome Williams.
“You did now,” said the guy who pulled it off, Jeremy Moore.
In a weekend of wacky baseball goings on at Spring Mobile Ballpark, Salt Lake (44-58) pulled off the rare grand slam on Sunday, thanks to Moore and a bright sun.
The Bees also needed just two hits to score their first eight runs in a 10-2 victory against Tacoma (51-51). It was their fifth victory in eight games. . . .
But that Salt Lake first inning was something to talk about. And it had to be to top the Bees’ 10-run first inning Saturday, which included a more-routine grand slam , and an 18-9 win.
Tacoma starter Mauricio Robles had walked the bases full. Then with two out, Moore, who had been within a triple of a cycle Saturday, sent a high fly ball to deep left. It was a makeable play, only Rainiers left fielder Carlos Peguero lost the ball in the setting sun.
Peguero took two tentative steps toward the infield, hands raised high. The ball landed at the base of the wall. The swift Moore easily beat the throw home.
“I kind of knew when he missed it,” Moore said. ” I knew my speed.”
Apparently the last MLB player to hit an inside-the-park grand slam was Randy Winn of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Oct. 3, 1999, according to baseball-fever.com.
“Wahoo” Sam Crawford holds the post-1800s MLB record for inside-the-park home runs with 51 out of the 97 he hit in or out of the park. Not coincidentally, Crawford also has the record for most triples in an MLB career, with 309. But Baseball-Almanac says Jesse Burkett has the all-time record, with 55.