Baseball is a game filled with history, numbers and records, to the extent that some milestone moments are met with a shrug or a quick smile before everyone moves on. On Sunday afternoon, three Cubs outfielders did not take what they accomplished together for granted.
"Whenever you have a little piece of history," Schwarber said, "you always keep that with you."
Many of these current Cubs players have been bombarded with historical factoids and feats, given the end of the franchise's 108-year World Series title drought four seasons ago. Still, the record achieved Sunday resonated for the three outfielders involved in the powerful display at Great American Ball Park.
Heyward pointed out that Schwarber grew up roughly 40 miles north of Cincinnati in Middletown, Ohio, and he noted that Happ played baseball at the University of Cincinnati. And like the rest of MLB, they all wore Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 on Sunday as they made history. On Friday, Heyward spoke eloquently about Robinson's legacy.
So, know that the record did indeed mean something to the group.
"It's just really special," Happ said. "We were all talking about it. We were all pretty excited about it. It's pretty rare now. This game's been going on for a while, so it's pretty rare to have a first."
Overall, this marked the 20th time in MLB history (since 1901) that a team had three players belt at least two home runs in a game. Most recently, Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop and Mitch Garver achieved the feat with the Twins on April 20, 2019, against the Orioles.
For the Cubs, it had not happened since April 16, 1955. During that game, Ernie Banks, Randy Jackson and Dee Fondy each went deep twice in a 12-11 loss to the Cardinals.
"All in all, good, good offense," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Throughout the lineup, guys battled and got their pitches. And that was a good pitcher that started that game for them."
In fact, Reds starter Luis Castillo had allowed just one home run in 32 1/3 innings going into Sunday's outing against the Cubs. Then, the right-hander gave up three of Chicago's six blasts, which brought the North Siders' total to 14 home runs in the four-game set in Cincinnati.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 14 homers were the most in a four-game series in Cubs history, and they tied for the most in a series of four or fewer games. For added context, this was a four-game set spread over three days, with two seven-inning games on Saturday.
"It's nice to be rewarded," Heyward said. "I feel like we've been having -- all of us -- tough at-bats, putting a lot of pitches in play hard, taking our walks when we can. So it's nice to be rewarded."
Schwarber got the derby going with a leadoff homer off Castillo in the fourth inning, sending a 2-0 changeup a projected 428 feet to right field, per Statcast. Schwarber also capped off the parade with a grand slam off José De León that soared a projected 444 feet in the ninth. Before that slam, the Cubs were 7-for-37 with no homers and a .398 OPS with the bases loaded this year.
Schwarber laughed when asked if he felt like he needed to hit the second homer to not be left out of the festivities.
"Great question. I guess so," he said. "It's pretty cool, though. I guess we made some history today."
Heyward launched a solo homer off Castillo in the fourth and then added another against reliever Robert Stephenson in the sixth. Those blasts, combined with his two walks, improved his slash line to .362/.508/.787 in his past 18 games, in which he has boosted his season OPS to .962 from .501.
"He really does a good job of staying in his approach," Ross said, "and not getting outside of what he knows he can do, and where he likes the baseball. So I've seen such good at-bats from him. Consistency."
Happ belted a two-run homer to center off Castillo in the fifth and then added a solo blast to right off Stephenson in the seventh. He entered the day with a .407 on-base percentage and .604 slugging percentage in 14 games as the Cubs' leadoff man, filling in exceptionally for the injured Kris Bryant.
All of those elements added up, combined with the history achieved, made this one memorable for the trio.
"We're really close out there," Happ said of the outfielders. "To be able to do that as a group, with two of the guys that you care about a lot, that you've played with for a long time, that was really special for all of us."
Following Monday's Trade Deadline, the Cubs will send lefty Jon Lester (2-1 ,4.55 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game set against the Pirates at 6:05 p.m. CT at PNC Park. New Cub José Martínez should be with the team. The game will be broadcast by Marquee Sports Network and MLB.TV.