Glancing Back, and Remembering Art Shamsky
Art Shamsky played eight seasons in the major leagues for four different teams. While most of his success as a hitter came while he was playing with the New York Mets, his shining moment as a major leaguer occurred during his second season, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
St. Louis born and raised, Shamsky played baseball at the University of Missouri Columbia until he was signed by the Reds in 1959. He made the Reds’ squad in 1965, batting .260 as a part-time player.
He had a very productive year for the Reds in 1966, despite hitting only .231. He hit 21 home runs with 47 RBIs, while scoring 41 runs, all in only 234 at-bats. Yet what Shamsky did on August 12 and 14 of 1966 has never been topped in major league history.
With the Reds playing the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 12, Shamsky started the game on the bench and entered it in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in a double switch. He came to bat in the bottom of the eighth and hit a two-run homer off Al McBean to put the Reds on top 8-7.
The Pirates tied the game in the ninth inning and took the lead in the tenth. Shamsky came to bat in the bottom of the tenth and homered off Roy Face to tie the game. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, with Pittsburgh on top 11-9, Shamsky blasted a two-run home run off Billy O’Dell to tie the game again. Eventually, the Pirates won the game 14-11 in 13 innings. Shamsky remains the only major leaguer to hit three home runs in a game he didn’t start.
But he wasn’t done. Two days later, in his next at-bat, Shamsky hit a two-run pinch homer to put the Reds ahead in the seventh inning. That was four home runs in four consecutive at-bats, tying a record that is shared by Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg, Ralph Kiner and Stan Musial.
By the way, in his next at-bat, Shamsky only singled.
He hit only .197 for the Reds in 1967 and was traded to the Mets for Bob Johnson. Platooned with Ron Swoboda, he batted .300 during the “miracle” season of 1969, with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. From 1968 through 1970, Shamsky batted .277 for the Mets while averaging 12 home runs and 48 RBIs per season.
Shamsky was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals but was released just prior to the start of the 1972 season. He split that season between the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics, playing a combined 23 games with 23 at-bats. He retired at age 30 after the 1972 season.
Shamsky finished his eight-season major league career with 426 hits and a .253 batting average. He hit 68 home runs.
Four are still in the record book.