Braves History: Pitcher Jim Tobin Has Three Homer Game

Hitting three consecutive home runs in a single game is an impressive accomplishment for any Major League hitter. On this day in 1942, Boston Braves starting pitcher Jim Tobin had a three home run game of his own.

These days, a pitcher showing any kind of hitting ability is rare. For every Madison Bumgarner, there are a dozen other pitchers who look like they are flailing away in hopes of surviving the plate appearance without injury. Yes, we get the entertainment value of seeing things like Bartolo Colon swing a bat, but for the most part, those turns in the batter’s box are devoid of interest.

However, that have been times when a pitcher has provided a great deal of intrigue at the plate, such as during Bumgarner’s two home run game this season. Yet, even his efforts in the batter’s box were topped by Boston Braves pitcher Jim Tobin, who on this day in 1942, hit three consecutive home runs in a single game.

The only pitcher in the modern era to have a three home run game, Tobin had quite the power streak. He had had a pinch hit homer in the previous game, and continued to swing a hot bat against the Chicago Cubs. He ended up going 3-4, and even that out was a fly ball to the wall in left. With a bit more carry, Tobin would have had a four home run game, a feat accomplished by just 16 MLB players.

Instead, Tobin had to settle for being the first pitcher since Guy Hecker in the 1880’s. However, Hecker also appeared at first and in the outfield, with only 14 more career appearances on the mound than at first. Hecker also was the only pitcher to win a batting title and the only player in MLB history to score seven runs in a game. He was obviously a lot more than just a pitcher.

For Tobin, that would be one of the few highlights of the season. While he would finish the year with six homers, he struggled on the mound. He had the worst year of his career, leading the National League with 21 losses and 127 earned runs allowed. Overall, he was 12-21 with a 3.97 ERA (84 ERA+), walking 96 batters with just 71 strikeouts in 287.2 innings.

Tobin would rebound from that season, and would make history on the mound as well. Adding a knuckleball to his repertoire, he became an All Star in 1944. That year, he also pitched two no hitters, although one was a five inning affair. His Major League career ended with a World Series title with the Tigers in 1945, allowing Tobin to leave while on top.

Jim Tobin may not have had a great 1942 season on the mound for the Boston Braves, but he made a mark at the plate. On this day in 1942, he became the only pitcher of the modern era to hit three homers in a single game.

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