His given name is Ryan Joseph Gennett and the story goes that he earned the nickname Scooter when he was 5 years old and his mother took him to the police station in order to scare him into wearing his seat belt.
“I told the cops Scooter Gennett because that was my favorite Muppet Babies character,” he said back in 2014. “I kind of just used it as an alias, I thought I would get in trouble if I told them my real name.”
Now the name Scooter Gennett goes into the record books as just the 17th player to hit four home runs in a game, the first since Josh Hamilton in 2012. He entered the game with three home runs all season, just 38 in his career, and just one two-homer game. It makes him the least likely member of the four-homer club, at least since Bobby Lowe all the way back in 1894. It was also one of the greatest individual performances in major league history, as Gennett went 5-for-5 with 10 RBIs in the Cincinnati Reds‘ 13-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gennett. The best a man can hit. pic.twitter.com/ekgeeyqMe1
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 7, 2017
My friend Jim Baker keeps a list of the greatest single-game offensive performances. It employs a list utilized in many fantasy leagues: You get one point for every total base, run scored, RBI, walk and stolen base. There is no weighing for park or era or quality of competition; it’s just a raw point total.
Anyway, Gennett’s game scores 31 points — just one behind the all-time mark, although remarkably, only tied for the best score of 2017. Here are the games that have scored 30 points:
Shawn Green, Dodgers, 5/23/2002: 6-for-6, 4 HR, 2B, 7 RBIs, 6 R
Mark Whiten, Cardinals, 9/7/1993: 4-for-5, 4 HR, 12 RBIs, 4 R
Scooter Gennett, Reds, 6/6/2017: 5-for-5, 4 HR, 10 RBIs, 4 R
Anthony Rendon, Nationals, 4/30/2017: 6-for-6, 3 HR, 2B, 10 RBIs, 6 R
Gil Hodges, Dodgers, 8/31/1950: 5-for-6, 4 HR, 9 RBIs, 5 R
Tony Lazzeri, Yankees, 5/24/1936: 4-for-5, 3 HR, 3B, BB, 11 RBIs, 4 R
Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 5/8/2012: 5-for-5, 4 HR, 2B, 8 RBIs, 4 R
Fred Lynn, Red Sox, 6/18/1975: 5-for-6, 3 HR, 3B, 10 RBIs, 4 R
Joe Adcock, Braves, 7/31/1954: 5-for-5, 4 HR, 2B, 7 RBIs, 5 R
Walker Cooper, Reds, 7/6/1949: 6-for-7, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 R
Is Gennett’s game the best ever? Only Whiten had more RBIs in a four-homer game, but he also made an out. Green didn’t have as many RBIs, but had six hits, including a fifth extra-base hit. Rendon’s game was awesome, but I’d say Gennett’s fourth home run trumps Rendon’s. So I say it’s between Green and Gennett; I’m still partial to Green’s game, but if you like RBIs, you can make the case that Scooter Gennett just had the best game ever.
Amazingly, Gennett isn’t even a regular starter for the Reds. In fact, just last weekend when the Reds hosted the Braves and long-time second baseman Brandon Phillips returned to Cincinnati, he called it a “slap in the face” that the Reds had issued his No. 4 to Gennett.
In the third inning, he fouled off a 3-2 curveball and then crushed a fastball 424 feet to right-center for a grand slam.
In the fourth, now facing John Gant, he hit another 3-2 fastball, a line drive to center also estimated at 424 feet.
In the sixth, sitting on a 3-1 fastball from Gant, he went the opposite way to left field for his third home run.
Finally, facing somebody named John Brebbia, he lined out an 0-2 fastball a couple of rows into the right-field stands. It might have been a home run only in the small confines of the Great American Ballpark, but the box score doesn’t care about dimensions. Gennett had made history.
Why Brebbia challenged him with a fastball while ahead of the count was certainly a bit odd. Even Gennett said after the game that he was surprised, “but that’s baseball, I guess.” He also said he wasn’t necessarily trying to hit a home run.
“I never get good results when I try to do that,” he said.
Although I’d say when he swung through an 0-1 fastball, it certainly looked like he was swinging for the fences.
Gennett was actually born in Cincinnati, although he moved to Florida when he was 9 years old. The Reds claimed him on waivers late in spring training, when the Brewers surprisingly cut him, even though he had been the club’s primary second baseman in 2016. He said his first call would be to his mom and dad.
“My dad was pretty pissed I was 0-for-19,” Gennett joked (he entered in a 1-for-20 slump).
Tweets from the historic game:
I think Scooter Gennett has earned the right to wear No. 4
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) June 7, 2017
Scooter Gennett is the first player in major league history named Scooter to hit four home runs in a game.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 7, 2017
— MLB (@MLB) June 7, 2017
As they say in baseball, you just never know what will happen.