Perhaps because they are so rare and usually unexpected, home runs by pitchers remain one of baseball’s great delights.
Over the years, some of the most memorable examples of #PitchersWhoRake have come from these hurlers.
Bartolo Colon, Mets
May 7, 2016 at Padres
“The impossible has happened!” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen summed it up best when Colon stunned the baseball world and went yard off James Shields at Petco Park in 2016. With the shocking blast, Colon became the oldest player in MLB history to hit his first career home run, doing so at age 42.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants
May 21, 2015 vs. Dodgers
In addition to his stellar work on the mound, Bumgarner has proven to be arguably the best hitting pitcher of his generation, and the Giants even opted to eschew the designated hitter and let him bat at an American League park during a 2016 Interleague game in Oakland. The list of pitchers Bumgarner has taken deep includes Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke (twice), Jacob deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu. In fact, his big fly off Kershaw in May 2015 was the first homer that the Dodgers' ace ever allowed to a fellow hurler.
Mike Hampton, Rockies
June 10, 2001 vs. Cardinals
While Hampton didn’t live up to the eight-year, $121 million contract that he signed with the Rockies in December 2000, the thin air of Colorado worked wonders for his bat. Hampton didn’t have a single homer in 449 career plate appearances before joining the Rockies, but he hit 10 -- and slashed .315/.329/.552 -- in two seasons with the club, at one point going deep in three straight at-bats spanning two starts in June 2001. That feat wasn't duplicated until 2018, when Michael Lorenzen did it for the Reds.
Dave McNally, Orioles
Oct. 13, 1970 (World Series Game 3) vs. Reds
One of two pitchers with more than one career homer in the postseason, McNally hit the only grand slam by a pitcher in World Series history against the Reds in 1970. He also threw a complete game, putting the O’s up three games to none en route to the second title in franchise history. McNally showed off his power at times in the regular season as well, belting nine home runs in 438 at-bats from 1968-1972.
Best of the rest
Here are some additional moments when pitchers showed their might at the plate.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets
May 11, 2016 at Dodgers
Although this is only his fifth big league season, Syndergaard is one of six active pitchers with at least six career home runs. He shined on the Hollywood stage in a 2016 road win over the Dodgers, plating all four Mets runs with his two homers and throwing eight innings of two-run ball. New York trailed by one as late as the fifth, but Syndergaard’s three-run blast in the frame gave the club the lead for good. Watch >
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
May 2, 2016 vs. Phillies
Along with Bumgarner, Wainwright is one of two active pitchers with at least 10 career homers, and one of his most impressive shots came in a May 2016 game against the Phillies. After allowing Philadelphia to score three times in the top of the second inning, Wainwright got all of those runs back with one swing in the fourth, hitting a rocket to "Big Mac Land" in left field at Busch Stadium. Watch >
Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
Aug. 6, 2011 vs. Reds
“Big Z” was known for his big flies, as he slugged a whopping 24 of them during his career, more than any pitcher since 1975. He collected 23 of those with the Cubs, the last of which came in 2011 off Johnny Cueto at Wrigley Field. Watch >
Dontrelle Willis, Reds
Aug. 3, 2011 at Astros
After a promising start to his career, Willis faded as his control began to waver in 2008. However, he had one final run with the Reds in 2011 and made the last of his nine career home runs count, crushing a ball to right field for a go-ahead blast in the seventh inning of an August game at Minute Maid Park. Watch >
Bob Gibson, Cardinals
Oct. 6, 1968 (World Series Game 4) at Tigers
Although St. Louis fell to the Tigers in seven games in the World Series, Gibson capped a brilliant 1968 season -- in which he won the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards -- with a stellar Fall Classic. The right-hander recorded a 1.67 ERA with 35 strikeouts over 27 innings, and in Game 4 at Tiger Stadium, he smacked his second career World Series homer. With that, Gibson became the first pitcher to hit two career homers in the playoffs. Watch >
Warren Spahn, Braves
July 22, 1964 vs. Phillies
Spahn has more wins (363) than any other left-hander in history, and he also holds the record for home runs by a National League pitcher with 35. The final long ball of his career came in 1964, marking his 17th straight season with at least one homer.
Babe Ruth, Yankees
Oct. 1, 1933 vs. Red Sox
Ruth was on a Hall of Fame trajectory as a pitcher, but once he made the shift to become a full-time outfielder, the rest is history. The slugger hit only 14 of his 714 career homers as a pitcher, with 13 of those coming in 1921 or earlier. The last of those came more than a decade later in the final pitching appearance of his career, as Ruth went deep and threw a complete game in a win over Boston on the last day of the 1933 campaign.
Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for MLB.com.