The walk-off inside-the-park home run is normally an every few years sort of occurrence. In the time for which Baseball-Reference.com has data (1925 to 2018), there have been 27 documented. It’s a cool list of players, one highlighted by Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey Jr.
There is only one instance in this time of two walk-off inside-the-park home runs being hit in the same season. In fact, they were hit on consecutive days!
The first came in a game between the Phillies and Astros on August 1, 1966. The Astros came back from three runs down to tie the game in the ninth, and nearly went ahead in the 10th when Jim Wynn tried to steal home. The Astros contended afterwards that Wynn beat the tag at the plate, but umpire Ed Vargo called him out.
It got worse for Wynn in the bottom of the inning. In attempting to catch a fly ball hit by Richie Allen (also known as Dick Allen, which will be important in a bit), Wynn crashed into the fence and disclocated both his elbow and wrist. Allen circled the bases for the walk-off inside-the-park home run. Wynn recovered from the injuries well enough to play nearly the full 1967 season, in which he hit a career-high 37 home runs.
Let’s fast forward one day and 3,000 miles across the country, where the Angels are hosting the Yankees. The Angels trailed 5-1, but rallied to tie. The last two runs came with two outs in the ninth inning against the Yankees closer that day, Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford.
As if it wasn’t enough that Ford failed that day, how about this: Angels third baseman Paul Schaal batted with the score tied. He hit a line drive to shallow center. Mickey Mantle came racing in for the ball, and missed it. The ball went past him and went all the way to the wall. Schaal joked to sportswriters that it took him five minutes to circle the bases, but he beat the throw home for a walk-off inside-the-park home run.
To which I’d say: Find me another story in which Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle were the goats!
As I’ve noted before, I use old time newspaper stories to write this recap and when you get to a page with a game story, you often find yourself scanning the whole page. In this case, the second page of the game story in the Los Angeles Times is next to an article labeling Mantle ‘The Colossal Cripple.’ The story is about how Mantle is finally getting recognition he deserved as fans realize the end is near.
But there’s something smaller that also caught my eye, a really small ad for “Mr. Toyota” in nearby Inglewood. And who is Mr. Toyota in this case?
A man by the name of Dick Allen. (Please allow the artistic license to make for a fun coincidence!)