There’s always something going on in the world of baseball – someone is always making history for their gameplay, whether that gameplay is good or bad. One thing that is very rare to see in the game though, is a grand slam. But what is a grand slam in baseball?
What is a Grand Slam?
In baseball, a grand slam is when a team hits a home run when there is a baserunner at each base when the pitch is thrown. With this, the offense team manages to score four runs at one swing, since the home plate hitter also makes a score. The batter who hits it receives 4 runs batted in with that one bat.
Grand slams can be traditional home runs over the fence, or inside the park home runs as well. Grand slams in general are relatively rare, because the exact moment when the bases are full and the batter makes a successful bat is not very easy to come across.
What’s The Big Deal About Grand Slams?
Rare things are special, and how rare grand slams are definitely makes them special. Think about it: how many times in a game would you really have all bases full? And then, with all bases full, the batter has to actually hit the home run as well. The four runs that you score with a grand slam can really turn the game around and give you the edge you need – whether you were already in the lead or falling behind.
In fact, a home run itself can drastically change the game, especially in the MLB.
Differences Between a Grand Slam and a Home Run
There is often confusion between grand slams and home runs. For newbies and non-fans, the two seem like the same thing, especially since home runs are used to explain grand slams so frequently.
The difference is that a grand slam is a home run that is hit with three runners on base, but regular home runs don’t have that. You could say that all grand slams are home runs, meeting the condition of having three runners and therefore four scoring runs. However, not all home runs are grand slams – if there are less than three runners, the home run will have scoring runs between one and three, and will just be called a home run.
How Far Are Typical Home Runs?
To understand why grand slams are difficult, you have to understand two things: it’s difficult to load the bases fully, and then even more difficult to actually hit a home run. For many batters, the pressure of simply having loaded bases makes the home run even harder.
In MLB baseball, the park and wall sizes can make the overall distance of the home run different, but on average, you will typically see about 325 feet down the left and right field lines.
Some parks have a shorter wall, but this is the typical distance. This means that hitting the home run is not easy, even if you didn’t have full bases. Now imagine how much everyone would expect of the batter when the bases are full – the pressure itself can cause you to mess up!
That said, there have been plenty of excellent players who have hit home runs and grand slams during their careers.
How Frequent Are Grand Slams?
Grand slams are, as mentioned before, pretty rare. In fact, in MLB’S 1,672 games in 2018, there were only 142 home runs. Of the 5,585 home runs hit in the same season, only 141 were grand slams. This means that an average of about 2.5% of all games in the season had grand slams.
In fact, if you were going to see a baseball game in the major league right now, there is only an 8% chance that you’d see a grand slam.
Because of how rare they are, when your team hits a grand slam, there is no surprise that the ballpark would explode with cheering and celebration. It becomes particularly exciting if the grand slam happens much later in the game.
As rare as grand slams are, it’s understandable that hitting two grand slams in the same game is exceptionally rare. That said, there have been such cases!
There have been a total of 13 players who managed to hit two grand slams in the same game, as of October 2021.
Rare still is when you take it a step further and make it three grand slams, but again, this has also happened! In 2011, the New York Yankees managed to hit three grand slams, and won the game 22-9 against the Oakland Athletics.
Sometimes, multiple teams playing on the same day also manage to hit grand slams. For example, in June 2017, there were a total of seven grand slams on the same day across the American and National League.
Meanwhile, in 2021, the Boston Red Sox hit two grand slams in the first and second inning of the same game, and then a third in game three. This made them the first team to hit three grand slams in postseason games.
Grand Slam Records
As of October ’21, the league record for most career grand slams stands with Alex Rodriguez, who has a record of 25 grand slams. The next on the list is Lou Gehrig with 23, and Manny Ramirez with 21. The complete list can be found on the MLB website.
On the other hand, 13 players have managed to hit two grand slams in the same game. For the 21st century, these include Josh Willingham in 2009, and Bill Mueller in 2003. Bill Mueller is also the only one to hit two grand slams from the left and right sides.
Grand slams are definitely rare and that’s what makes them extra exciting! Even watching a home run can have fans in the ballpark cheering, so a grand slam is sure to make them go crazy.