Then, with the crowd on its feet in the eighth inning, Gennett drove a high fastball from John Brebbia into the second row above the fence in right-center.
“Usually when I hit a home run, I consider myself lucky,” Gennett told Fox Sports Ohio. “But it’s hard to get lucky four times in a row.”
Gennett, 27, entered the game in a 1-for-20 slump. Before his grand slam, he had gone 93 at-bats without a home run. He said he was trying to relax, hit good pitches and not swing too hard.
“I think I might be onto something here,” Gennett said.
Gennett, who spent his first four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, now has 42 career home runs. The previous 16 players to accomplish the feat averaged 309 career homers. The list includes just two players with at least 500 (Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt) but seven with at least 300: Joe Adcock, Rocky Colavito, Carlos Delgado, Lou Gehrig, Shawn Green, Gil Hodges and Chuck Klein.
The last to hit four in a game was Josh Hamilton, for the Texas Rangers in Baltimore on May 8, 2012. Hamilton has not played since 2015 because of injuries, making Gennett, effectively, the only active player to have done it.
He received a congratulatory message on Twitter from Mike Cameron, who hit four home runs in a game for Seattle in 2002 and wrote, “Congratulations to Scooter Gennett joining the very exclusive club of 4 homers!!”
Only one other player has hit four homers while driving in at least 10 runs, and he also did it at a Cardinals-Reds game in Cincinnati. On Sept. 7, 1993, at Riverfront Stadium — which stood next door to where Great American Ball Park was built — Mark Whiten of the Cardinals hit four homers and drove in 12 runs.
But Gennett, who singled in the first inning, stands alone as the only player ever to have four home runs, 10 R.B.I. and five hits in one game. He also did it in his hometown, where an encounter with a police officer at age 5 led to his unusual name. His given name is Ryan.
“One day, I was in the car with my mom; she would always put on my seatbelt, and I would click it off,” Gennett told The New York Times in 2014. “I was just a defiant kid; I always wanted attention, never really did what I was asked to do, just to see what would happen. So my mom actually took me to the police station to scare me a little bit.
“The police officer, I remember he asked me what my name was, and I thought if I told him my real name, I’d get arrested. I was so young and scared. So I made up a name and said, ‘Scooter.’ That was the only name I really knew at the time. That was my favorite character. And I didn’t answer to Ryan for about a year because I thought I’d get in trouble and get arrested.”
He added: “Some of the teachers were like: ‘What? I’m not calling you that.’ But eventually, they did. It started off as Ryan, but they ended up calling me Scooter. It just stuck.”
Now, it will stick in the record books, for a night that defied imagination.
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