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Fads come and go, but there are a few times in life that you can say you witnessed something will become a legend, especially in baseball. Major League Baseball originated in 1869. So, something that has never happened before in the game is doubtful. 

In 1981, a year-long phenomenon occurred. It was ‘Fernando Mania.’ Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela stormed into baseball and became an All-Star, Cy Young winner, and National League Rookie of the Year. In addition, he helped the Dodgers win their 4th World Series Championship. To say that it was a great year would be an understatement.

But alas, my story is not about THAT Fernando. My story is about the first Dodger Stadium game I attended on April 23, 1999. And the man I speak of was the third baseman of the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, Fernando Tatis. What he did on this night defies all baseball logic. And the three things that happened became baseball history. And even more incredible, it may never happen again.

It was unique, too, because it was the first time I saw my all-time favorite team, the Cardinals, live in my new hometown. And the main attraction was the man who had hit 70 home runs the previous season, first baseman Mark McGwire. Even though it was early in the season, this was a highly anticipated game.

The Dodgers scored single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead into the top of the third inning. And what an incredible third inning it was. The top of the Cardinals’ order was to face pitcher Chan Ho Park. Darren Bragg singled, Edgar Renteria was hit-by-pitch, and McGwire singled to load the bases. Then, Fernando Tatis came to bat.

Tatis would start his historic night by crushing the third pitch from Park over the left field wall for a Grand Slam. The Cardinals now led 4-2. But it only got worse for Park.

After getting J.D. Drew to ground out, he gave up another home run to catcher Eli Marrero. The Cardinals are now up 5-2. Indeed, Dodgers manager Davey Johnson had to be concerned at this point. But he continued to let Park try to ‘stop the bleeding’ and get 2 more outs. This is where the baseball gods crucify those who hesitate.

Weirdly, the Cardinals sent pinch hitter Placido Polanco to hit for the presumably injured David Howard. Polanco walks on 4 pitches. And ‘Go Go’ Joe McEwing also works a 7 pitch walk. Pitcher Jose Jimenez reaches on a bunt that is scored as a fielder’s choice to load the bases. The top of the Cardinals order returns as Darren Bragg reaches on an Adrian Beltre error. Polanco scores. Cardinals lead 6-2 with the bases still loaded.

The drama is high, and the armchair managing is in high gear. Edgar Renteria singles to right field, and McEwing scores to make it 7-2. The bases are STILL loaded with Mark McGwire, the same guy who hit 70 home runs last season, coming to bat with 1 out. The wisdom here on Davey Johnson’s part was that McGwire gets low pitches from Park to get a double play and get out of this brutal inning. McGwire flies out to the right fielder for the second out, and because a pitcher is running on third base, he doesn’t tag up and score.

So Chan Ho Park, incredibly still pitching, has one precious out to get with the bases still loaded. And up comes the man who homered off him earlier in the inning, who is amazingly in the same situation. For the record, Park has 42 pitches in this inning alone.

Tatis works a 3-2 count on Park. And on the sixth Chan Ho Park pitch of the at-bat, crushed ANOTHER Grand Slam over the left-centerfield fence. The Cardinals now led 11-2, but even more incredibly, I had just witnessed something that had never (I repeat, never) happened in baseball. Without hesitation, I say that I will never see it again in my lifetime.

The historic accomplishments were as follows: a) No player in the MLB had ever hit 2 Grand Slams in one inning. b) No player in the MLB had ever hit 2 Grand Slams in one inning off the same pitcher. c) Tatis set the record for eight RBIs in one inning.

Park was mercifully pulled from the game by Carlos Perez, who got J.D. Drew to end the inning by popping out to Beltre. But obviously, the damage had been done. There were 11 runs, six hits, and one error in the inning.

The Cardinals went on to win 12-5, and my first game in Los Angeles ended. But I will never forget being there for one man’s most incredible game of all time. And it reminded me how great baseball is in the fact that in one inning, you could witness something extraordinary. But if you blink, you could miss it.

Thanks for reading, and please comment below if you have any baseball memories you would like to share.

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