Trio of cycles kicks off memorable season
Hudson, Kinsler, Kubel made their mark early in April
The 2009 baseball season will be remembered for many things such as Mark Buehrle's perfect game and the Yankees winning their 27th World Series title, but it also could also be remembered as the year of the cycle.
After all, eight different players hit for the cycle in 2009 to match the record for cycles in a season set all the way back in 1933.
The trend was never more evident early in the year when it showed up in unusual circumstances, as three players hit for the cycle in a five-day span in just the second week of the season.
The Dodgers' Orlando Hudson did it first on April 13 and was followed by the Rangers' Ian Kinsler, who did it just two days later, and the Twins' Jason Kubel, who pulled it off just two days after Kinsler.
Interestingly enough, however, it didn't set the record as three players also accomplished the feat in a five-day span in 2008 when Adrian Beltre and Stephen Drew hit for the cycle on the same day, just four days after Cristian Guzman did the trick.
But while based on recent history hitting for the cycle might appear almost common the last few years -- there have been 16 players who have achieved the feat over the last three seasons -- it's undoubtedly rare as it has been accomplished 288 times dating back to 1882, which works out to about two to three cycles hit per season.
So if you look at it that way, three cycles happening within five days of each other in back-to-back seasons is truly remarkable.
It was Hudson who first hit for the cycle in 2009 and he didn't waste any time as his cycle came in his first game in Los Angeles on April 13.
It actually marked the first time a Dodgers player had hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium in its 47-year existence while Hudson also became the first Dodgers player to do it since Wes Parker accomplished the feat in 1970.
The cycle was even more impressive considering future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson started the game on the mound for the Giants and Hudson homered, doubled and singled against him.
But Hudson didn't even realize he had hit for the cycle when he slid into third base for a triple in the sixth inning against reliever Brandon Medders and had to be alerted by his teammates and the fans, who cheered wildly.
"I was like, 'Congratulations for what?'" Hudson said after the game. "I had no idea what was going on. And then I realized it was the cycle. I was wondering why they were cheering for me like that."
So while Hudson couldn't have predicted his amazing day and didn't even realize what he had done, no one could have seen what was coming in the next four days with two more players hitting for the cycle.
Next up was Kinsler, who did the trick on the same day baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on April 15.
It was a fitting way to honor the Hall of Famer, who also hit for the cycle back in August 1948, which was just a little over a year after he broke baseball's color barrier.
"It is more special to do it on Jackie Robinson Day," Kinsler said at the time. "He's the guy who could do everything in the game, hit triples, hit home runs, steal bases, score runs, do everything. It is weird that it's Jackie Robinson Day and I'm playing second base, but it's great it happened that way."
Kinsler couldn't have done it in better style as his six hits to go along with the cycle matched William Farmer Weaver, who also had six-hit cycle with the Louisville Colonels on Aug. 12, 1890.
When his night at the Ballpark at Arlington was over, Kinsler's six-hit game included two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run, and in the process he became the first Rangers player in club history to have six hits in a nine-inning game.
It was impressive no doubt, but it didn't quite have the dramatics that Kubel's cycle had two days later, as Kinsler's came in a 19-6 blowout over Orioles while Kubel helped the Twins overcome a seven-run deficit against the Angels in an 11-9 win at the Metrodome on April 17.
And to top it all off, Kubel completed his cycle with a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to become just the seventh player to hit a grand slam while also hitting for the cycle. He also was the first since Miguel Tejada in 2001 to finish a cycle with a grand slam.
"That's not going to happen too many times," Kubel said, with a laugh at the time. "I've never had a cycle before, not professionally. It was an unbelievable moment."
It was an unbelievable moment to be sure, but combined with Hudson's and Kinsler's heroics earlier in the week, it earned itself a spot as one of the most memorable occurrences of the 2009 season.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.