In honor of the recent release of Dan Epstein's "Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of 1976," I've decided to do a short series where I'm taking the title of each chapter from the book (which also happen to be song titles from that year) as well as cards from the '76 Topps baseball set, and trying to do a mashup. Wish me luck.
One of the most difficult things to do in baseball is hitting for the natural cycle (collecting a single, double, triple and homer in order). The feat has only occurred a total of fourteen times in MLB history, with Gary Mathews, Jr. being the last player to do so (September 13, 2006).
Perhaps the strangest natural cycle occurred during the bicentennial year of 1976- by a player from a Canadian team.
Montreal shortstop Tim Foli was never considered a home run threat. In fact, during his 16 year major-league career, the infielder hit a total of 25 round-trippers to go with a .309 slugging percentage. But on April 21st, Tim came to bat in the top of the 6th needing only a home run to finish off the difficult feat.
Top 2nd: Single to LF off of Cubs P Geoff Zahn
Top 3rd: Double to LF off of Cubs P Tom Dettore
Top 5th: Triple to LF off of Cubs P Paul Reuschel
Facing the Cubs' Paul Reuschel for the second time in as many innings, Foli's at-bat ended in a fielder's choice as Ellis Valentine was thrown at home. Still, with Montreal due three more at-bats, Foli figured to get at least one more plate appearance. However, darkness was settling in quickly (remember, this was before Wrigley had lights) and the chances of Foli finishing his feat looked rather dim. And in the top of the seventh, the game was suspended due to darkness.
The game resumed the next day with Foli getting his shot at the record books in the top of the 8th. This time he wouldn't be disappointed, as he homered off of the Cubs' Ken Crosby in his final at-bat of the game- finishing off his cycle in his final at-bat.