On this day in 1976, Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt became the only player in Wrigley Field history to hit four home runs in a game. Many fans get this performance mixed up with the 1979 Phillies 23-22 win (we’ll cover that on May 17). In this one the Cubs blew a 13-2 lead and lost 18-16 in 10 innings.
Schmidt is only the second-biggest Cub enemy in Wrigley Field history. His 50 home runs in the Friendly Confines are tied with Hank Aaron. Willie Mays is the leader with 54. He was actually hitting 6th in the lineup that day and started off with a strikeout and a single before launching four straight bombs. (Phils lineup ahead of Schmidt: Dave Cash, Larry Bowa, Jay Johnstone, Greg Luzinski, Dick Allen)
I interviewed Mike this summer and his face lit up like a dog who finds a pork chop when talking about that day. “Hey whatever we’ve got to do to get in a game at Wrigley Field is fine with us,” he said. “You know it’s a nice small ballpark and if you can hit the ball in the air, you can hit some home runs. . The first memory for me is 1976 when I hit four home runs and we ended up winning a ballgame 14-13. I remember my at-bats in that game. I think I popped up then I hit a ground ball single between third and short then homered four straight times. I had a five for six day with eight RBIs. The great thing about that was we came from behind in that game and won it 14-13.”
I guess you can forgive him for not knowing the final score. He was in so many slugfests at the park they must all blur together! For the record, here are Schmidt’s four home runs:
5th inning – two-run homer off Rick Reuschel to cut the Cubs lead to 13-4.
7th inning – solo shot off Reuschel. 13-7 Cubs
8th inning – 3-run blast off Mike Garman 13-12 Cubs
10th inning – solo homer off Paul Reuschel 16-15 Phillies
They would score two more runs to take a three-run lead to the bottom of the 10th. Bill Madlock’s RBI double pulled the Cubs within two and that’ show it ended. 28.287 fans were on hand to witness Schmidt’s display.