Sunday, July 3, 1966…this was the day we should all remember as one of the best performances an Atlanta Braves pitcher has ever had. The Braves took on the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in an afternoon ball game in front of 27,000 fans. When the fans
The Braves took on the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in an afternoon ball game in front of 27,000 fans. When the fans arrived to the facility, they had no idea what they were about to witness.
The Braves and manager Bobby Bragan sent a young 25-year-old right hander named Tony Cloninger to the mound. He came into the game with an 8-7 record and a 4.35 ERA and had a .200 batting average. On this night, he would improve all of those categories.
Cloninger was born on August 13, 1940, in North Carolina and was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1958. The righty pitched with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1961-1968, Cincinnati Reds from 1968-1971 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972.
It is the first inning. Tony comes to the plate with bases loaded. Tony does the unthinkable and hits a grand slam. Call it a day and go home.
But … Tony is there to pitch and pitch he does.
He comes up again in the fourth. And boom, another grand slam. Cloninger became the first player in the National League, and the only pitcher to date, to hit two grand slams in the same game!!
As the game ended, Cloninger finished his complete game with five strikeouts and picked up his ninth win of the season. He was the player of the game, going 3-5 with nine RBI’s and a complete-game win on the mound. The Braves won this match up against the Giants 17-3.
Crazy stat…just five starts prior, Cloninger went 3-5 at the plate with hit two homers and five RBIs. He also pitched a complete game on this night and only gave up five hits and one run.
One Additional Crazy stat…on Cloninger’s first start of the 1966 season, he threw a complete game 13 innings and gave up 10 hits, three runs, three walks and had 12 strikeouts. Talk about saving your bullpen.