On May 2, 1954 in a doubleheader against the New York Giants; St. Louis Cardinal right fielder Stan Musial hit five home runs. There were 26,662 in attendance that Sunday afternoon at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium to see him do what no other Major League player had accomplished. In the first game, Musial hit three home runs and drove in six runs in the Cardinal’s 10 – 6 victory. He hit 2 homers and drove in three runs in the nightcap, but the Giants won 9 – 7. The baseball Hall of Famer finished the season with 35 home runs, 126 runs batted in, and a .330 batting average.
In the stands at Busch Stadium that spring afternoon with his father was eight year old African American Nate Colbert. Musial was little Nate’s favorite Cardinal ballplayer. Ten years later, Colbert was signed by the Cardinals as an amateur free agent; but they lost him to the Houston Astros in the 1965 Rule Five draft. Colbert never played a game in his hometown team’s uniform. The Astros traded him to the San Diego Padres in 1969.
On August 1, 1972; in Colbert’s fourth season with the Padres, he tied the record he saw Stan Musial set in 1954. Colbert hit five home runs in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. He hit two home runs and drove in five runs as the Padres won the first game 9-0 and hit three homers driving in eight runs in his team’s 11 -7 victory in the nightcap. For the second time in his six years with the Padres, Colbert hit 38 home runs in 1972 and he was a three time National League All-Star with the team.
Records are meant to be tied or broken. But Colbert being present to see the record set that he would eventually tie makes this a unique circumstance. His career did not come close to that of Stan “The Man” Musial. However, on that August day in 1972, Colbert was able to do what he saw his childhood favorite Cardinal ballplayer do eighteen years earlier. He and Musial are still the co-holders of the record.
What baseball records have you witnessed being set or broken?