A's unveil homer hammer -- and Diaz hammers 3 homers

Childhood spent watching Yanks in Colombia comes full circle in Bronx for prospect

May 10th, 2023

NEW YORK -- On a night the A’s introduced a hammer modeled after the one used by Marvel superhero Thor as their latest home run celebration, the new prop seemingly equipped with superhuman-like strength.

Entering the night with one home run in 89 career plate appearances, Diaz more than tripled that total by belting three home runs in Tuesday’s 10-5 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The A’s No. 4 prospect became just the third rookie in franchise history to homer three times in a game and the first since Mark McGwire did it on June 27, 1987.

At 22 years and 269 days old, Diaz became the second-youngest A’s player to hit three homers in a game. Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane was the youngest, matching the feat at 22 years and 46 days on May 21, 1925, with the Philadelphia A’s.

“That was a pretty special night for Jordan,” said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. “Coming into Yankee Stadium -- I’m pretty sure it’s his first time here -- and to have the game he had tonight says something about the young man. He’s got a special tool. He can hit, and he showed that tonight.”

This three-game series is indeed Diaz’s first visit to Yankee Stadium, which accomplishes a goal he set many years ago while growing up in Colombia.

As a child living in Monteria, the capital city of the Colombian province of Cordoba, Diaz often sat in his living room accompanied by his late grandfather to watch baseball. Most nationally televised games featured the Yankees, so Diaz naturally gravitated toward the club and idolized stars such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

A few hours before Monday’s series opener in the Bronx, Diaz emerged from the visiting clubhouse for a full-circle moment. Standing atop the A’s dugout, he slowly glanced at each corner of Yankee Stadium, reminiscing on the memories he shared with his grandfather back in Colombia.

“It’s very special for me,” Diaz said in Spanish. “As a kid, I would sit in my house with my grandpa and we would always watch Yankee Stadium on TV and talk about the Yankees. For me, it’s a special day. Playing here in Yankee Stadium, it’s a dream come true.”

Summoning the power of the hammer, Diaz got stronger as the night went along. After sending his first two homers into the left-field seats, his third long ball of the night was his most impressive, a two-run blast off Greg Weissert in the eighth that was scorched 106.3 mph off the bat and sent a projected 413 feet to left-center, according to Statcast.

“He can drive the baseball,” Kotsay said of Diaz. “He showed that through the Minor Leagues. He hasn’t been able to do that here yet, but that’s in a limited number of at-bats. We talk about trying to get Jordan in this lineup more. The performance tonight is a good sign that he’s in the right direction.”

Despite the A’s dropping their third straight game, the significance of Diaz’s achievement can’t be overlooked:

• Since 1906, there have only been 35 instances in which a rookie has homered three times in MLB.

• Diaz’s three-homer game was the 29th in A’s franchise history and 17th since the team moved to Oakland in 1968. Khris Davis was the last A’s player to do it on May 17, 2016, against the Rangers.

• Of the second basemen in A’s history, Diaz is only the second to accomplish the feat. Héctor Lopez homered three times on June 26, 1958, against the Washington Senators as a member of the Kansas City A’s.

“That was wild,” said A’s starting pitcher Drew Rucinski, who took the loss after allowing seven runs (five earned) in five innings. “So cool to see that. Dude hits the ball hard. Three is incredible. It doesn’t happen often.”

The A’s had been searching for a worthy home run celebration. They first tried out swapping a home run hitter’s helmet for a catcher’s mask and a run through the dugout. Then came another Marvel-themed prop with a pair of Hulk hands that players would wear upon returning to the dugout. 

After much deliberation, A’s left-hander Kyle Muller and a few other players settled on the Thor hammer and had it shipped out to New York, where it arrived Tuesday afternoon.

“Hulk hands were a good idea, but poorly executed because they looked more like oven mitts,” Muller said. “We might have to rename it the ‘Jordan Hammer’ now.”

A fan of the Thor movie series, Diaz approves of the new celebration, especially given the combined 1,183 feet worth of dingers he produced on its first day.

“Good creativity by the boys,” Diaz said. “I like it.”