He wasn’t considered a power hitter when the Red Sox acquired him, but Bill Mueller flashed plenty of it 13 years ago this month.
On a typically hot mid-summer Texas night, Mueller scorched the ball hitting three home runs including two grand slams. You read that right. Two grand slams. In consecutive innings. From both sides of the plate.
On that night, with Tim Wakefield on the mound, Grady Little at the helm, and David Ortiz contributing two doubles of his own, the Sox would beat Buck Showalter‘s Rangers 14-7 on their way to a date with destiny that would ultimately become another heartbreaking, cursed season and the end of the line for Manager Little.
Switch hitting Mueller would become one of 13 major league players to hit two grand slams in a single game, one of six to do it in consecutive innings (remarkably, the Cardinals Fernando Tatis did it in the same inning), and the only one to do it from both sides of the plate.
Mueller is the one of eight Red Sox and the most recent to drive in nine runs in a game. Since then, just eight other major league players had managed nine RBI in a nine inning game, most recently Mike Moustakas on September 12, 2015 with two home runs, including a grand slam, and a bases loaded single.
As rare as the prospect of multi-granny games might be, the Sox had seen them three other times in franchise history, more than any other major league club:
- Jim Tabor in Game 2 on Fourth of July, 1939
- Rudy York on June 27, 1946
- Nomar Garciaparra on May 10, 1999
After the second slam, Mueller was lifted for Lou Collier, who appeared in just four Red Sox games and had just one hitless plate appearance in his brief time with the club. Collier would play a handful of games with the Phillies in 2004 before retiring after eight big league seasons, with all but those four Sox games in the National League.
Despite the dreadful ending of the season for the Red Sox in 2003, Mueller would earn the American League batting title, finishing with a .326 batting average. The next year he’d go 6-for-14 (.429) in the 2004 World Series to help the Sox beat the Cardinals and finally bring a championship to Boston. After working as a hitting coach with the Dodgers and Cubs, Mueller returned to his native St. Louis for a similar job with the Cardinals in 2015, where he works today.
Mueller was the last American Leaguer with two grand slams in a game and the most recent until the Nationals Josh Willingham connected for two on July 27, 2009.