Lights Out: Art Shamsky
When: August 12, 1966
Where: Crosley Field, Cincinnati, Ohio
Game Time: 4:22
Slender Art Shamsky didn’t look like a slugger. Throughout his minor league career in the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system, that’s what he was. But he wasn’t enough of a slugger to break into the Reds’ everyday lineup when he joined the team for keeps in 1965. By 1966, he was the spare bat and glove for a Reds outfield that featured Vada Pinson, Deron Johnson and Tommy Harper.
During the 1966 season, Shamsky set a slugging record that no Red – or any other major leaguer – has ever matched.
When the Reds entertained the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 12, Shamsky began the game where he began most of his appearances that season … on the Reds’ bench. He came into that contest batting .224 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 147 official at-bats.
The game was a slugfest. The Reds scored first on Johnson’s two-run homer in the opening frame. The Pirates came back to take the lead in the top of the third on a pair of two-run blasts by Jesse Gonder and Roberto Clemente. The Reds tied the game in the fifth on a Pete Rose home run, only to see the Pirates’ Bob Bailey lead off the sixth with a solo shot. The Reds scored two more to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth, followed by Bailey’s second home run of the game that gave the Bucs a 7-6 lead going into the eighth.
That’s when Shamsky entered the game. Reds manager Dave Bristol pulled a double switch in replacing pitcher Joe Nuxhall. Don Nottebart moved into the fifth batting position replacing Gordy Coleman, while Deron Johnson moved from left field to first base, and Shamsky took over in left, batting in the ninth position. Shamsky batted third in the eighth inning, and he hit a two-run home run off Al McBean, putting the Reds up by one run, a lead they would relinquish in the top of the ninth to a Jerry Lynch pinch home run.
The game went into extra innings, and Willie Stargell homered in the top of the tenth to put the Pirates ahead 9-8. Shamsky batted second in the bottom of the tenth and homered off Roy Face to tie the game again. Bailey hit a two-run double in the top of the eleventh inning to put the Pirates ahead 11-9, but Shamsky hit his third consecutive home run, a two-run blast off Billy O’Dell, to tie the game again after 11 innings.
It would be Shamsky’s last at-bat for the game. After a scoreless twelfth inning, the Pirates scored three runs in the top of the thirteenth (amazingly, none on home runs). Tommie Sisk shut down the Reds in order in the bottom of the thirteenth to preserve his own victory.
Bob Bailey should have been the game’s hitting star, with two home runs and a double accounting for five of the Pirates’ runs. But Shamsky’s hitting was perfect: three for three, all home runs, with five runs batted in. Shamsky remains the only player in major league history to hit three home runs in a game when he was not in the starting lineup as the game began. And in his next at-bat – two days later against the Pirates – Shamsky hit his fourth consecutive home run.
Shamsky finished the 1966 season with 21 home runs (second on the team to Johnson’s 24) and 47 RBIs, with a .521 slugging percentage, in only 234 official at-bats.