Scooter Gennett reminded us again last night (that is on June 6th) why baseball is the greatest game in the world, when he became only the 17th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game. The Cincinnati Reds utility man also set a single-game club record with 10 runs batted in, and blooped a run-scoring single to boot making him 5-for-5 on the night. The single came in the first inning and he followed that with a grand slam, a two-run homer, a solo shot, and another two-run blast. The grand slam went to right center; Gennett then hit the next three home runs to center, left, and right respectively. Gennett became the first player in the 135-year history of the Reds to hit four homers in a single game. [Boxscore]
It’s a rare feat indeed, but it becomes even more improbable when you consider that when the game began, the lefty-swinging Gennett had hit only three homers on the season, and 38 in his five-year big league career. Furthermore, he had been released by Milwaukee in March and the Reds then claimed the 5’10”, 185 pounder on waivers.
Scooter Gennett is yet another example of a primary thesis in Fathers, Sons, & Holy Ghosts: Baseball as a Spiritual Experience which is that our passion for baseball arises, in large part, because it strengthens our faith. Baseball provides events that are so improbable that they suggest the impossible and when the Impossible happens, we label it a Miracle. The concepts of the Infinite and the Eternal are beyond our comprehension, but we can understand the metaphors that suggest what these things are like and this strengthens our faith. Believe me, Scooter Gennett hitting four home runs for the Reds, when Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster, Adam Dunn, and Joey Votto have not is miracle.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that he is officially listed in baseball-reference.com as “Scooter,” which means that he was destined to play baseball because that’s a baseball name if ever there was one. Besides, how many bank presidents do you know are named Scooter? What else could he do? Actually, Ryan Joseph Gennett picked up that nickname when, at the age of five, and refusing to wear his seatbelt, he was taken by his mother to the local police station to have a uniformed officer scare him into wearing it. Frightened that he would be arrested if he provided his real name, the quick-thinking kid gave them the name of his favorite Muppet character.
Only in baseball.
Oh, and to put one final improbable cherry on this most unlikely of sundaes? Though he graduated from Sarasota High School in Florida, where the family moved when he was nine, Scooter was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
You gotta believe.