A ‘record’ guaranteed to last forever

Baseball is the game of a zillion records, so surely there’s a million that will never be broken.

After the designated hitter arrived, I never thought a pitcher would hit a grand-slam home run in the World Series, like Dave McNally did.

Nor that a player would play every game until his consecutive-games streak reached 2,632…erasing 2,130, a number we knew by heart before Cal Ripken Jr. displaced Lou Gehrig.

And while Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Bob Gibson’s 1.12 earned run average have survived, did anybody dare to think a pitcher would throw seven no-hitters, like Nolan Ryan did?

All these “untouchable” records make great conversation when the “these-records-will-never-be-broken” aficionados gather to argue…err, debate…them. Many aficionados will be right because many of their favourite records will stand, or at least outlive the aficionados.

My favourite WILL never be broken. Guaranteed. Technically.

Here’s the trivia question that guarantees perpetuity:

Which former Montreal Expos player hit two grand-slam home runs in the same inning…off the same pitcher? The technicality is that he didn’t do it while playing for the Expos, and since no former Expos still play, it will never happen again.

The ex-Expos name is Fernando Tatis Sr., not to be confused with Fernando Tatis Jr., who currently hits long home runs for the San Diego Padres, the team which — coincidentally — was born the same year as the Expos. And while Tatis the elder is of a previous generation, it doesn’t require a Distant Replay to tell his one-inning story.

It happened in 1999.

Tatis was an outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals and two years away from joining the Expos. On that Friday evening in April, the Cards were at Dodger Stadium, and there aren’t many places ballplayers would rather be for night games in April. In the third inning, Tatis was facing Los Angeles starter Chan Ho Park with the bases loaded. He hit a 2-and-0 fastball into the Dodgers bullpen without raising a stir, or even a relief pitcher.

After an out, a home run (Eli Marrero), two walks, a bunt, an error, a two-run single and another out, Tatis was back. Dodgers Manager Davey Johnson had been ejected and none of his eight coaches seemed to think Chan Ho Park should be.

Tatis hit Park’s 87th pitch into the left-field bleachers, for grand slam number two.

To be fair, Park was among baseball’s best at (not) allowing home runs, in his career averaging only one every nine innings. And Tatis, while was the Cardinals’ clean-up hitter, had more home runs in the third inning than he did in two seasons with Montreal. His career HR total: a modest 113.

Even today, the event is rich in irony.

The slugger first credited with hitting 70 homers in one season, Mark McGwire, was batting just ahead of Tatis. McGwire made the second slam possible by flying out to keep the bases loaded. And when Tatis Jr. played at Dodger Stadium on the 22nd anniversary of his father’s feat, Junior also hit two home runs — neither a grand slam, not off the same pitcher, not in the same inning, not as a former Expo.

That record belongs to his Dad.