Jim Gentile had 21 multiple-home-run games, the most historic one coming in 1961 when he hit grand slams in back-to-back innings. More obscure, but no less interesting, was a two-homer effort at Fenway Park three years later. Playing for the Kansas City A’s, the man known as ‘Diamond Jim’ triggered a skirmish in the Red Sox dugout with his dingers.
“A dear friend of mine, Dick Stuart, was playing first base for Boston,” the now-86-year-old Gentile told me recently. “They finished batting practice, and as I was walking up to the cage, he yelled at me, ‘Diamond, how ya hitting ‘em?’ Then he threw me his bat, and said I should try it. On my first swing, I hit the ball into the bullpen. I got out of the cage and went to throw it back to him, and he said, ‘No, keep it.’
Bill Monbouquette was on the mound for the Boston that day. A solidly-built right-hander, ‘Monbo’ not only had a no-hitter and a 20-win season on his resume, he was a self-described red-ass (a segment in this 2015 Sunday Notes column serves as evidence). If Gentile didn’t already know that, he would soon find out… albeit from a safe distance.
“Come game time, I’ve got my bat in…