A-Rod's 25 grand slams stand alone
Gehrig, Manny rank right behind Rodriguez on all-time list
Few plays can swing a baseball game like the grand slam. It's the biggest offensive weapon in baseball, one that can clear the bases, boost the score and send the opposing pitcher into dismay with one swing of the bat.
It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that some of the greatest sluggers in history have utilized the grand slam with smashing success. But in case you were curious, here are the owners of the most career grand slams in Major League history.
1. Alex Rodriguez: 25
The Majors' all-time leader in grand slams spread his damage far and wide. A-Rod's 25 grand slams came off 25 different pitchers. He crushed them against 16 different opponents, inflicting the most damage against the Orioles and Rays (four times each) while also punishing two of his former clubs in the Mariners and Rangers. Any time of game was a dangerous one when Rodriguez came up, as he hit at least one grand slam in each inning from the first through the 11th. Rodriguez also ended three different games with a walk-off slam, tied with Vern Stephens and Cy Williams for the most in history.
Perhaps A-Rod's most satisfying grand slam came on the final day of the 2009 regular season. With teammate Mark Teixeira tied with Rays slugger Carlos Pena atop the American League home run leaderboard, Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine intentionally walked Teixeira to load the bases. Rodriguez promptly followed with grand slam No. 18, which also happened to be his 30th homer and 100th RBI of the season. A-Rod and the Yankees went on to win the World Series that fall.
2. Lou Gehrig: 23
The year 1925 wasn't just the year Gehrig took over for Wally Pipp at first base; it was also the year in which he belted the first of his 23 grand slams that stood as a record for generations. Gehrig's bases-loaded blast off Senators pitcher Firpo Marberry on July 21, 1925, actually bounced off the left-field grass before landing in the stands at old Yankee Stadium, meaning it would have been a ground-rule double under today's rules. It was good enough for a slam at the time, however, and Gehrig certainly had no trouble proving he could clear the fences over the rest of his legendary career.
The Iron Horse's grand slam victims included two future Hall of Famers (Lefty Grove and Ted Lyons), and he pummeled his AL rivals in the Senators, A's and Indians with five slams apiece. Gehrig finished his career with a 1.175 OPS with the bases loaded, the third-highest of any player with at least 100 at-bats in those big situations.
3. Manny Ramirez: 21
Few hitters in baseball history have struck more fear into the heart of opposing pitchers than Ramirez, especially with the bases loaded. Ramirez packed 13 of his grand slams into his first eight seasons with the Indians, and over one-third of his slams were hit at Progressive Field. The slugger allocated at least one slam to each inning from the first through the eighth and haunted 21 different pitchers.
Ramirez's most dramatic grand slam may have been his last one. Coming off the bench for Joe Torre's Dodgers in the sixth inning on July 22, 2009, Ramirez hit a tiebreaking grand slam off the first pitch he saw from Reds pitcher Nick Masset into the Mannywood cheering section in left field. It also happened to be Ramirez's own bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium.
"It was one of the best moments in my career," he said. "I'm just glad it happened in L.A."
4. Eddie Murray: 19
"Some situations you can't help but think grand slam," Murray told reporters in 1983, and Orioles fans got to watch him hit 16 of his slams in parts of three different decades for their club. Steady Eddie's 299 RBIs with the bases loaded are the most in history, and his 1.127 bases-loaded OPS ranks fourth all-time -- right behind Gehrig -- among qualified hitters. His .399 average in those situations ranks eighth, and above everyone else on this list.
"Eddie's always there when you need him," said Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver. "He's been that way all his career."
5 (tie). Willie McCovey and Robin Ventura: 18
McCovey's 18 slams remain a record among players who spent their careers exclusively in the NL, with 10 of them cutting through the wind at Candlestick Park. "Stretch" knocked at least one grand slam in nine consecutive seasons from 1964-72, tied with Rodriguez for the longest streak in history.
Ventura enjoyed an excellent 16-year career in the Majors, which included six Gold Glove Awards and two All-Star selections, but it's rather remarkable that more than 6 percent of his 294 home runs (the fewest of anyone on this list) came with the bases packed. And Ventura hit his slams in bunches. On Sept. 4, 1995, the third baseman collected salamis in back-to-back innings against the Rangers. Four years later, Ventura became the third player to hit a grand slam in both games of a doubleheader.
And this doesn't count for the purposes of our list, but Mets fans will never forget Ventura's "grand-slam single" against the Braves in Game 5 of the 1999 NL Championship Series.
7 (tie). Jimmie Foxx, Carlos Lee and Ted Williams: 17
The best slugger of his time not named Ruth, Foxx terrorized pitchers of every caliber. Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Ted Lyons were among Foxx's most frequent homer victims, and each of them gave up slams to the A's and Red Sox great. All of the historic ballparks of the time -- from old Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park to Shibe Park to Comiskey Park -- hosted at least one Foxx grand slam.
Lee's 358 home runs rank among the lowest on this prestigious list, but he had a habit of making his dingers count in big moments. In fact, Lee is the only player to hit three grand slams in extra innings. Two of them helped his club walk off with a win in extras, and that's tied with Rodriguez and three other players for the most in history.
And then there's Williams, arguably the greatest hitter ever, whose name on this list comes with little surprise. On Sept. 22, 1957, Williams hit a slam for his fourth straight homer in four official at-bats -- though those at-bats came in a span of four games interspersed around 11 walks. Williams' final grand slam came as part of a seven-RBI day on July 29, 1958, when he also rapped a three-run homer in the same afternoon against the Tigers.
8 (tie). Hank Aaron, Dave Kingman and Babe Ruth: 16
You don't rack up the all-time record of 2,297 RBIs without picking some up in bunches along the way, and that's exactly what Aaron did. One of Aaron's 16 slams came in the bottom of the ninth inning on July 12, 1962, when he hit a walk-off slam just four at-bats after his brother, Tommie, hit a pinch-hit homer of his own.
Aaron is fittingly tied with Ruth on this list, and the Babe hit his own dramatic slam on Sept. 24, 1925. With the Yankees trailing the White Sox, 5-2, in the bottom of the 10th, Ruth launched a pitch from Sarge Connally deep into the right-field stands at old Yankee Stadium for one of the very few 'ultimate' grand slams in big league history. Ruth is also the only player to hit slams on consecutive days on two separate occasions, doing so in both 1927 and '29.
Right alongside them is Kingman, who got a head start by hitting two homers -- including his first slam -- in his first Major League start for the Giants on July 31, 1971. Kingman hit his slams in five different uniforms while punishing 15 different opposing clubs. Kingman's final slam came in 1986 as part of a 35-homer campaign at age 37, which stood as the most homers in a player's final season until David Ortiz clubbed 38 for the Red Sox in 2016.
Most of the names listed above are the usual suspects when it comes to power records, but grand slams can be fickle. Only one has been hit in nearly 90 installments of the All-Star Game (Fred Lynn off Atlee Hammaker in 1983), for instance. Pete Rose logged more than 14,000 at-bats -- including 196 with the bases loaded -- and hit just one slam. Jim Palmer faced more than 16,000 batters across three different decades, and never surrendered one. The 10 slams surrendered by Nolan Ryan, one of the most unhittable pitchers in history, is the most all-time.
But isn't that the beauty of the grand slam? It's hard to know when a hitter will strike one, but it has as much power to swing a game as just about any play in baseball.