"It's been around a long time, but you have the chance to see something totally amazing whenever you go to the ballpark," Ford said, in his typically raspy voice, while reflecting on decades of covering Reds players from Ewell Blackwell to Joe Nuxhall to Johnny Bench.
Later that day at Riverfront Stadium, I saw Willie McCovey smash a solo home run to right field for his San Francisco Giants against the Reds, and I emphasize the word "smash." I also saw McCovey rip a grand slam that threatened to tear through the stadium walls along the way to the other side of the Ohio River.
Both homers came in the sixth inning.
Until that moment, no player in Major League history had slugged two homers in the same inning, period -- and consider that the Reds became the world's first professional baseball team ... in 1869.
Anyway, it's been 35 years since McCovey's feat (and much longer than that since the Reds' birth), and baseball continues to produce either unique moments or rare ones. For verification, we needn't go further back than this year, where there has been an epidemic of the unique and the rare during a season that isn't even two months old.
In fact, we could start by going back just a few days.
How about to Thursday?
During the first game of a doubleheader in Baltimore, Ryan Flaherty opened the bottom of the first inning for the Orioles against the Texas Rangers with a homer. Then J.J. Hardy hit one out.
Then Nick Markakis followed with another.
Let's see. In the American League, you've had those Yankees powerhouses of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, then of Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich, then of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, then of Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson, then of Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly, and then of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Remember the Twins of Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva?
The Detroit Tigers also had sluggers of yore, with Al Kaline sharing a lineup with Willie Horton, Norm Cash and Bill Freehan. Plus, there were those Boston Red Sox of Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk.
Speaking of the Orioles, few teams had more power the than one with the two Robinsons (Frank and Brooks) and Boog Powell.
That said, those Orioles of the late 1960s and early '70s never started a game with back-to-back-to back home runs, and neither did those other teams. More specifically, no team in the AL's 111-year history managed such a feat before the Orioles on Thursday.
There were 19,250 folks at Camden Yards for that game, but within years, you'll swear there were 19 million.
Everybody will say they were there.
The same goes for the game last Sunday at Fenway Park between the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox.
It nearly was two games. It lasted 17 innings, and when the six hours and seven minutes were over, the Orioles were in the midst of more baseball history with their 9-6 victory.
Both teams used eight pitchers -- you know, regular pitchers -- before each team finished the game with position players.
That was the history part.
Designated hitter Chris Davis sealed things for the Orioles by throwing two scoreless innings. As a result, he combined with Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald to participate in the first game featuring two position players on the mound since October 1925.
Back then, Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and George Sisler pitched in desperation for their respective teams. We're talking about during the Calvin Coolidge administration.
In contrast, there have been 14 players to hit four home runs in a game since those Roaring '20s, and Josh Hamilton became one of those players this week. Still, when you consider that just 16 guys have done so overall, Hamilton's accomplishment was rare.
It was even more rare than a perfect game.
Nevertheless, perfect games have occurred just 21 times in baseball history. We mention this because we've already had a perfect game this season, with Philip Humber performing the honors in late April for the Chicago White Sox.
So here we go again: This is the first time for a perfect game and a four-homer game in the same season.
Then there is Jamie Moyer, the ageless wonder for the Colorado Rockies. A few days before Humber's perfect game, Moyer, at age 49 years and 150 days, used his left arm to throw seven innings against the San Diego Padres while becoming the oldest player ever to win a game.
Somewhere, 40-year-old Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves and 41-year-old Jason Giambi of the Rockies nodded their approval.
Old players stick together.
Here's something else: On the night of May 2, Jones hit a two-run walk-off homer to give the Braves a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 11 innings. That was after Giambi spent the afternoon ripping a walk-off homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was the first time two players with 400 or more career homers hit walk-off homers on the same day. It also was the first time two 40-year-old players managed walk-off homers on the same day.
Only the baseball gods know.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less