Most 3-HR games ever? Here's the top 10
Mookie Betts accomplished something in Thursday's Dodgers-Padres game at Dodger Stadium that only two other players in MLB history have -- he hit three home runs in a game for the sixth time in his career. And he's only 27 years old, playing in his seventh Major League season.
Hitting three home runs in a single game, while a remarkable feat, isn't among baseball's most uncommon accomplishments. It's frequently dwarfed by the rarity of a no-hitter, triple plays or even a four-homer game.
But what is rare are the players who have homered three times in a game more than once, something only 104 players have accomplished since at least 1908. At the top of that list is a group of 15 players who've done so at least four times. Below is a look at each of those players and the performances that put them among this elite company:
1. (tie) Mookie Betts
His first three-homer game came on May 31, 2016, playing for the Red Sox in a 6-2 win against Baltimore. He followed that up with another three-homer game on Aug. 14 of that year against Arizona, a 16-2 win in which he drove home half of Boston's runs. He went on to finish second to Mike Trout in AL MVP voting that year. In 2018, he again had a pair of three-homer games for the Red Sox with three solo shots against the Angels on April 17 (a 10-1 win), and again on May 2 against Kansas City. In the process, he also joined Johnny Mize (1938 and 1940) to become just the second player in history to have a pair of three-homer games in separate seasons. Betts also became the first player to have four three-plus-homer games before age 26, passing Ralph Kiner and Boog Powell, who both had three such games. On July 26, 2019, he became the eighth player with at least five three-homer games when he went deep in each of his first three plate appearances against the Yankees at Fenway Park. And on Aug. 13, 2020, Betts made it an MLB-record-tying six career games with three homers for the Dodgers against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.
1. (tie) Johnny Mize
Mize, a 10-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, held the Major League record for most three-homer games for nearly 50 years before Sammy Sosa tied him at six games. The former first baseman played 15 seasons in the big leagues -- interrupted by a three-year military stint during World War II -- with the Cardinals, Giants and Yankees. He finished first or tied in the National League home run race four times (1939, '40, '48 and '49). Mize's first two three-homer games came in the same month in July 1938. He would go on to match the feat four more times -- twice more with the Cardinals in '40, once with the Giants in '47 and lastly with the Yankees in '50.
1. (tie) Sammy Sosa
Sosa was a prolific home run hitter, as evidenced by not only his 609 career long balls, but also his presence tied with Mize at the top of this list. Sosa first went deep three times in a game against the Phillies in 1996, the first year in which he slugged 40 home runs. He'd repeat it five more times for the Cubs, including once during his '98 record chase with Mark McGwire that earned him the NL Most Valuable Player Award and three times in 2001, when he drove in a career-best 160 runs. Sosa's final three-homer performance at Coors Field in 2002 tied the Cubs franchise record with nine RBIs.
3. (tie) Alex Rodriguez
Rodriguez went deep three times against the Twins on July 25, 2015, two days before his 40th birthday, and the third was a game-tying solo shot that sparked a ninth-inning rally for the Yankees. The former Mariners, Rangers and Yankees slugger -- who ranks fourth on baseball's all-time home runs list with 696 in his 22-year career -- recorded his first three-homer game 15 years prior with Seattle April 16, 2000. He hit another playing for the Rangers in '02 and two more with New York, in '05 and '10.
3. (tie) Mark McGwire
McGwire broke out with the A's in 1987 by setting the Major League rookie record for home runs -- a record Aaron Judge surpassed in 2017 -- and three of those long balls came in the same game on June 27 against Cleveland. McGwire repeated the performance several years later in '95 with Oakland. After joining the Cardinals in a Trade Deadline deal in 1997, McGwire collected three more three-homer games, including two during his pursuit of baseball's single-season record in '98. Big Mac did it once more in 2000, then retired after the '01 season with 583 career home runs.
3. (tie) Dave Kingman
Kingman was the driving force behind the Mets' dominant 11-0 shutout of the Dodgers with three home runs and eight RBIs on June 4, 1976. The 16-year big leaguer went on to earn his first All-Star appearance that season, totaling 37 home runs on the year. Kingman would do it again three more times with the Cubs in '78 and '79 and once more with the A's as his playing career was winding down in '84. At the time, he was the closest any player had gotten to matching Mize's longstanding record.
3. (tie) Carlos Delgado
In his 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, Delgado set a number of franchise batting records, including home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), doubles (343), runs (889), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.949). The first baseman also remains the only player in Toronto history with five three-homer games with only Edwin Encarnacion (two) hitting more than one. Delgado's first two three-home run performances came nearly a year apart against the same opponent -- the Texas Rangers on Aug. 4, 1998 and Aug. 6, 1999, the latter of which broke a tie and scored the deciding run in the eighth inning for the Jays. He did it again, twice in the same month, in April 2001, and also had a four-home run game -- which included his 300th career long ball -- on Sept. 23, 2003.
3. (tie) Joe Carter
Carter joined Kingman and Mize as the third player to record five three-homer games when he went deep three times for the Blue Jays against his former club, the Indians, on Aug. 23, 1993. Carter's four previous three-homer games came while playing for the Tribe from 1983-89. The former outfielder displayed impressive power in Cleveland and during his lone campaign in San Diego, but it wasn't until he was traded to the Blue Jays prior to the '90 season that his career really took flight. He earned five All-Star nods and slugged 30 or more homers four times in his seven seasons in Toronto.
7. (tie) Albert Pujols
Pujols collected three home runs in the same game four times while with the Cardinals. He first did it on July 20, 2004, against the division-rival Cubs; he batted 5-for-5 and broke an 8-8 draw in the ninth inning with his third blast. He did it twice in the Cardinals' 2006 championship season, including a two-run walk-off homer against the Reds on April 16. He last accomplished the feat on May 30, 2010. If you include the postseason, Pujols would belong among the former group of Rodriguez, McGwire, Kingman and Carter -- he hit three home runs in the Cardinals' Game 3 victory over the Rangers in the 2011 World Series.
7. (tie) Willie Stargell
Stargell hit 20 or more home runs in 15 of his 21 seasons playing in the big leagues with the Pirates, and on four occasions early in his career, he clubbed three home runs in a single game. The seven-time All-Star first did it against the Dodgers on June 24, 1965, then repeated the performance by batting 5-for-5 with three homers, a double and seven RBIs in May '68. In '71, he did it twice in the same month against the same team, the Braves, on April 10 and 21.
7. (tie) Aramis Ramirez
Ramirez was a staple in the NL Central for 18 years, playing for the Pirates, Cubs and Brewers from 1998 to 2015. The third baseman slugged 386 career homers, including four three-homer games. One came with the Pirates in '01 and three were with Chicago in '04 and '10. In his Sept. 16, '04 performance, Ramirez drove in all five of Chicago's runs in a 5-4 victory over the Reds.
7. (tie) Larry Parrish
Parrish, a 15-year Major League veteran, had three three-homer games for the Montreal Expos and remains the only player to record more than one for the franchise (now the Washington Nationals). He did it again in 1977, '78 and '80 with the Expos and then also with the Rangers on April 29, '85. In his final three-homer game, Parrish's two-run shot in the eighth inning broke a 5-5 tie against the Yankees and completed a Texas comeback.
7. (tie) Ralph Kiner
Kiner collected his first two three-homer games during his 1947 sophomore campaign in which he slugged 51 home runs -- tying Mize for the MLB lead -- and hit .313/.417/.639 in 152 games for the Pirates. He repeated the performance twice more with Pittsburgh, once the following season and again in '51. Kiner would go on to hit 369 home runs despite playing just 10 years in the Majors, fewer than any player who's ever reached the 300 milestone.
7. (tie) Barry Bonds
Baseball's all-time home run leader is unsurprisingly is in the mix. Bonds' first three-homer game came in 1994, his second season in San Francisco. He then did it twice -- on May 19 in Atlanta and Sept. 9 in Colorado -- during his record-breaking 2001 season; the latter performance gave him 63 for the season, passing Roger Maris' long-time record that had since been topped by both McGwire and Sosa. In a return trip to Coors Field in '02, Bonds went yard three times for a fourth and final time en route to 762 career homers.
7. (tie) Steve Finley
Finley starred in two lopsided Padres' victories in 1997, homering three times in the club's 13-6 victory over the Reds on May 19 and again vs. the Giants on June 23. He's the only player in Padres franchise history with multiple three-homer games. Only five other San Diego players -- most recently Hunter Renfroe on Sept. 20 last season -- have done it once. Finley also shares the record with Luis Gonzalez for the D-backs; he hit two more three-homer games in '99 and 2004.
7. (tie) Ernie Banks
Hall of Famer and Cubs legend Banks first hit three homers in a single game on Aug. 4, 1955, against the Pirates in his age-24 season. He hit 44 home runs that year, the first of five seasons in which he clubbed 40 of more. Banks had another offensive outburst against Pittsburgh in '57 with three home runs in the second half of a doubleheader. Mr. Cub would complete the feat twice more in '62 and '63, becoming just the third player with four three-homer games in MLB history.
7. (tie) Lou Gehrig
The Iron Horse's first three-homer game came in the Yankees' storied 1927 season, when he went deep three times at Fenway Park on June 23, 1927. Nearly two years later at Comiskey Park, Gehrig struck for three round-trippers against the White Sox on May 4, 1929. His final two homer hat tricks came against the Philadelphia A's, both in 20-13 Yankees wins at Shibe Park. In the second game of a doubleheader on May 22, 1930, Gehrig homered three times and drove in a career-high eight (the first of three such games). Two years later, on June 3, 1932, he had MLB's first four-homer game of the 20th century, becoming the first player with four games of three or more home runs.
Who's next? Among active players, Joey Votto, Andrew McCutchen and Edwin Encarnacion have three three-homer games. Corey Seager, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Davis, Evan Longoria, Manny Machado, Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Gonzalez are the active players with two. Including the postseason, Pablo Sandoval also has two such performances.