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Nightengale: Gennett’s Four-Homer Night: An Only-in-Baseball ‘Miracle’ for Reds

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Cincinnati Reds' Scooter Gennett runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher John Gant in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Cincinnati. Photo: John Minchillo, AP

Two months ago, he didn’t have a job.

Four days ago, he was being ripped to the heavens by a former Cincinnati Reds All-Star for having the audacity to wear his uniform number.

Tuesday night, Scooter Gennett became a legend.

Only in baseball.

It was one of the greatest individual hitting performances by the most unlikeliest of players in baseball history.

Gennett hit four home runs in his last four at-bats in the Cincinnati Reds’ 13-1 drubbing over the St. Louis Cardinals, going 5-for-5 with 10 RBI, opening his night with a single.

How stunning was his performance?

We’re talking about a guy who had three home runs in 117 plate appearances all season and entered the night fresh off an 0-for-19 slump.

“It’s just short of a miracle,” Gennett told reporters, in a humbling display of self-awareness.

Ryan Joseph Gennett — born in Cincinnati, nicknamed Scooter since the age of five  — entered the halls of baseball history by becoming only the 17th player to hit four home runs in a game.

This is a player who had never hit more than four home runs in an entire month until Tuesday, accounting for 9.5% of his career home-run total in a three-hour period.

“It’s surreal, man. It really is,” he said.

Nights like these just don’t happen to guys like Scooter, who was so thrilled that the Hall of Fame asked for memorabilia, that he gave away everything but his jock strap.

Remarkably, two months ago, he was jobless when the Brewers released him, only to have his hometown team pick him up.

And four days ago, Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was traded by the Reds, ripped the Reds and Gennett to the heavens for giving away his old No. 4 so soon after his departure.

“I still can’t believe that No. 4, someone is wearing my number,” Phillips told Cincinnati TV stations. “I think that’s a slap in my face, too. But it is what it is. Man, people have their own opinions and I’m going to have mine.”

Well, opinions are opinions but the cold-hearted fact is that the Reds’ uniform No. 4 will soon be displayed in Cooperstown.

Thanks to Gennett.

The night began innocently enough with a run-scoring single in the first inning, and then, became, oh, so enthralling.

Gennett hit a grand slam in the third inning.

In the fourth inning, he hit two-run homer

In the sixth, a solo homer.

And in the eighth, a line-drive homer into the right-field seats for another two-run homer, off Cardinals reliever John Brebbia.

History.

He not only became the first Reds player to hit four home runs in a game, but the first since Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. to drive in 10 runs in a game. Only five other players in the four-homer club ever had at least 17 total bases.

“It’s very emotional,’ says Reds manager Bryan Price. “It was an honor to witness that.”

Gennett is now in the rarest of company, and most of the names preceding him on the four-homer list bear this out: Gehrig, Mays, Colavito, Schmidt, Hodges, Delgado, Hamilton.

Welcome to Cooperstown, Scooter – well, at least several pieces of you.

Pretty nice month for a guy who had 38 home runs in 1,637 at-bats, with a career-high 14 homers last season. Gennett had entered the game hitting .270 with a .308 on-base percentage and .450 slugging percentage, and left it with a slash line of .302/336./.578.

It will be a night, he says, that he’ll cherish forever, and perhaps in time, there will be Scooters sprouting up all over Cincinnati.

The nickname, Gennett told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this spring, was given when he was the age of 5. His mother, Tina, took him to the police station for a lecture when he didn’t wear his seat belt.

Gennett, a quick-thinker even then, said: “I thought I was going to be arrested. So, I told the policeman my name was Scooter. After we left there, I didn’t answer to Ryan because I thought if I answered to my real name I’d get arrested.”

So he has been Scooter ever since.

And now, the Hall of Fame has a Scooter too.

By Bob Nightengale

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook

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