05/02/2002 11:16 PM ET
With 4 homers, Cameron crows
Becomes first Mariner to hit four homers in a game
By John Ralph / MLB.com
Mike Cameron swings for his fourth homer of the game. (Stephen J. Carrera/AP)
CHICAGO -- One of the greatest aspects of baseball's rich history, is that on any given day it can be rewritten.
And Seattle's Mike Cameron had pen in hand Thursday night at Comiskey Park.
The 29-year-old center fielder tied a Major League record by hitting four home runs in the Mariners' 15-4 win over the White Sox.
Cameron is the first player to accomplish the feat since the Cardinals' Mark Whiten on Sept. 7, 1993, and he is just the fifth to hit all four in consecutive at-bats, joining Bobby Lowe (Boston, May 30, 1894), Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia, April 17, 1976), Lou Gehrig (New York, June 3, 1932) and Rocky Colavito (Cleveland, June 10, 1959). Schmidt's four blasts were also in Chicago, against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Lowe and Cameron are the only two in history to have hit two dingers in one inning on their way to a four-homer game.
"Today was pretty groovy," said an elated Cameron at a press conference after the game. "I wasn't thinking about anything up there. It was just one of those days. It was like when M.J. (Michael Jordan) hit those six three-pointers (in the NBA finals) against Portland and just shrugged his shoulders.
"It's very special. I'm still living the moment. I feel like the king of the hill today ... and it couldn't have happened at a better place. I am going to shower, get dressed and check my voice mail, because everybody will be calling me. I'm going to definitely enjoy this night all the way to New York."
Cameron's fourth home run came in the fifth inning and was his third straight off Chicago reliever Jim Parque and third of the night to straight-away center field. All four home runs were solo shots and they traveled an estimated 1,254 feet.
He had two chances at a fifth home run, but was hit by a Mike Porzio pitch in the seventh and flew out to the warning track in the ninth inning.
Prior to Cameron's final at-bat, White Sox pitching coach Nardi Contreras hustled to the mound to talk with his pitcher. Porzio's first offering was a hanging breaking ball that Cameron let go by for a ball. After two fastballs high and away made the count 3-0, the Comiskey Park faithful, on their feet to see Cameron have a swing at history, began to voice their displeasure.
Porzio then poured one down the middle for a called strike, and Cameron took a healthy cut and fouled off a 3-1 fastball to run the count full. With the ballpark on edge, the Seattle slugger ripped the 3-2 pitch to deep right field, but Jeff Liefer ended the drama with an over the shoulder catch on the warning track.
"I tried to go for it because I don't think the guys would have been happy if I didn't try," said Cameron. "I hit it well enough but not high enough to go over the fence. Liefer made a nice play out there.
"I really wanted to make it happen, but I didn't want to swing at that 3-0 pitch, because I didn't want to make my team look bad. But I think if I did swing at it, it would have been gone. I just know it."
The little-known Porzio avoided the opportunity to become the answer to a trivia question.
"I read the scouting report that he's a guy you have to get the ball inside of because he's so strong," said the 29-year-old reliever. "I didn't look at it as history. I'm just trying to get the guy out."
Cameron's assault on the record book began in the first inning when the Mariners erupted for 10 runs off White Sox starter Jon Rauch and Parque. Cameron and Bret Boone made Major League
history by becoming the first pair of teammates to hit two home runs apiece in the same inning, and for good measure both sets of roundtrippers were back-to-back. Boone and Cameron are also the 14th and 15th players in AL history to have hit two homers in one inning.
"I told everybody to stay away from that guy right
there," Boone said. "Stay away from him. He just kept
hitting. It was unbelievable."
Both of Cameron's first-inning blasts cleared the 400-foot sign in dead center field. The first came off the 6-foot-11-inch right-hander Rauch, while the second was hit off Parque.
Cameron's third and fourth home runs, also solo shots off Parque, came in the third and fifth innings, respectively. Alex Rodriguez had been the last Seattle player to homer three times in a game, doing it at Toronto on April 16, 2000.
When he wasn't hitting home runs, Cameron was catching them. He robbed
Magglio Ordonez of a grand slam in the bottom of the third with a
leaping catch at the center field wall.
Prior to the game, Seattle manager Lou Piniella shuffled the lineup to try to shake up a struggling Mariners' offense. He moved a struggling Boone from third to second in the order and bumped Cameron, who was in a 4-for-32 funk with more strikeouts (31) than hits (22) this season, up to third.
"It's a thing of beauty," said Cameron. "Boonie and I have been struggling. Being a part of history is a thing of beauty because the game of baseball is a thing a beauty."
His manager agreed.
"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Piniella said. "It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy."
The 29-year-old Cameron was an 18th round draft pick of the White Sox in 1991. He rose through the Chicago farm system and made his Major League debut in 1995, batting .184 in 28 games as a late-season call-up. He split time between Chicago and the minors in '96 & '97 before playing a full season with the White Sox under first-year manager Jerry Manuel in 1998, batting .210 with 27 steals in 141 games.
"You've got to be excited for Mike in the sense that he's a tremendous young man," said Manuel. "He put on a tremendous show tonight. None of them were cheap either."
After that season, the White Sox dealt him to Cincinnati for first baseman Paul Konerko. With the Reds, Cameron began to blossom into a more complete player, and after hitting 21 home runs and stealing 38 bases, he was traded again -- this time to Seattle with three players for Ken Griffey Jr.
"I guess there's another asterisk that goes by name now," said Cameron. "Being traded for Junior and now this."
John Ralph is the Central Deputy Editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.