Just how rare was Vogey's walk-off slam?

September 6th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- A day later, the magnitude of the “beautiful moment” provided by on Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals was still sinking in. 

Vogelbach’s walk-off grand slam goes immediately onto the list of the most dramatic moments in Brewers history for a myriad of reasons, some of which were still trickling in Monday morning. But even in the moment, teammates realized they had witnessed something special. 

“Everybody stayed in the dugout. I’ve never seen that before,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That was the celebration. We enjoyed it with him. 

“I didn’t realize how rare that moment is in the game. And we were happy for Vogey. Those two things make you celebrate a little extra.”

Here’s a roundup of the ways Vogelbach’s blast was so rare:

• It was the 30th “ultimate grand slam” since 1925, baseball lingo for a walk-off slam in which the batter represents the winning run. Before Vogelbach, the last man to do it was the Cubs’ David Bote against the Nationals on Aug. 12, 2018. Like Vogelbach, Bote was a pinch-hitter.

• It was the Brewers’ first walk-off home run this season and the eighth walk-off grand slam in franchise history, but only the second to occur while the team was trailing. Cecil Cooper hit a walk-off slam on June 26, 1977, against the Mariners with the Brewers trailing, 6-4, in the ninth inning. Vogelbach’s came with the Brewers down, 5-2, in the ninth.

• Vogelbach’s was the first walk-off grand slam in Brewers history produced by a pinch-hitter. That’s only happened 38 times in AL/NL history, according to Stats, Inc., MLB’s official statistician, beginning with Philadelphia’s Cy Williams in April 1926. Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson have done it. So did 2021 Brewer Daniel Robertson, who accomplished the feat for the Rays against the Marlins on July 22, 2018. Before Vogelbach, the last Major Leaguer to hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam was the Padres’ Hunter Renfroe off the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen on May 5, 2019.

• It was the eighth pinch-hit grand slam in Brewers history, the first since Ji-Man Choi took the Phillies’ Luis García deep with the bases loaded on June 9, 2018, in Philadelphia. But it was only the second pinch-hit grand slam in Brewers history to occur in a home game; the other came from Darrell Porter on Sept. 9, 1974, against the Orioles.

• Vogelbach has a knack for picking his spots. He has only two pinch-hit home runs in his career, and both were grand slams. The other was Sept. 17, 2018, for the Mariners off Astros pitcher Héctor Rondón. It provided all of the runs in a 4-1 Seattle win.

• Thanks to Vogelbach, the Brewers won a game after trailing by four-plus runs in the ninth inning for only the eighth time. Their last such comeback was July 27, 2020, at Pittsburgh, but for the last such comeback at home, one has to go all the way back to May 11, 2004, against the Montreal Expos. The Brewers got ninth-inning RBIs from Geoff Jenkins, Chad Moeller, Brooks Kieschnick and Scott Podsednik to erase a 5-0 deficit before finally winning the game in the 14th inning.

For the Brewers, there was an element to the moment that cannot be measured by statistics. Vogelbach was the team’s primary first baseman when he suffered a hamstring injury on June 22 at Arizona, and when he returned to the active roster on Sept. 1, he’d been replaced at the position by trade acquisition Rowdy Tellez.

So, Vogelbach set his mind to contribute off the bench. 

“I mean, you control your work and you control how you come to the field every day,” he said. “You don't control anything else. So, just come to the field every day, and when my number's called, try to have a good at-bat and do what I can that day to help the team win.” 

That’s why his teammates all remained in the dugout in the wake of Sunday’s celebration to watch Vogelbach interviewed by Sophia Minnaert on the telecast. 

“I think we all recognize Vogey’s season this year and what’s happened and what he’s meant to us throughout the course of the season,” Counsell said. “That’s also a reflection of the person. Celebrations are a reflection of the person and what he means to us.”