In Yankees history, there have been 134 games where a pitcher has hit a home run. Unsurprisingly, all came prior to the implementation of the designated hitter. The last time it happened was by Lindy McDaniel on September 28, 1972. The DH came in the next season and it hasn’t happened for the Yankees since.
On three occasions though, a Yankee pitcher has taken it to the next level with more than one homer in a game.
The first Yankee to ever pull off the feat was Red Ruffing on September 18, 1930. Ruffing hit two home runs off St. Louis Browns’ pitcher Fred Stiely. That two-home run day was the second to last appearance of the season for Ruffing, who finished 1930 with a .364/.402/.582 line in 117 plate appearances.
With those stats, you might not be surprised to know that Ruffing did it again, six years later on June 17, 1936. With a 9-3 lead in the seventh, Ruffing gave himself two insurances runs with a homer off Indians’ reliever Ralph Winegarner. Then in the top of the ninth, Ruffing hit another off George Blaeholder.
In addition to two home runs, Ruffing finished off a complete game. A pitcher hitting two home runs today is unlikely. A pitcher hitting two home runs after his team takes a six-run lead in the sixth is even more unlikely.
For his career, Red Ruffing hit 36 home runs. It’s not shocking that he would be one of the pitchers to accomplish the feat.
The third time a Yankee pitcher hit two home runs in a game was July 26, 1940 against the White Sox. The Yankees had gone into the seventh trailing 2-1 after Spud Chandler surrendered a two-run home run. In that inning though, the Yankees rallied to take a 4-2 lead.
Chandler threw a scoreless bottom of the seventh and was due up to start the top of eighth. Chicago starter Eddie Smith allowed a leadoff home run to Chandler, giving the Yankees a 5-2 lead. Chandler then threw another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth.
In the top of the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases for the eight hitter Babe Dahlgren. White Sox reliever Pete Appleton walked Dalhgren, plating a run, and bringing Chandler to the plate. Chandler then hit a grand slam, making it 10-2. The Yankees’ pitcher finished off a complete game with a scoreless ninth inning.
In addition to the two home runs, Chandler also drove home the Yankees’ first run of the game with a single. He finished the game with six RBI. Unlike Ruffing, Chandler was not a particularly great hitting pitcher. He only drove in one other run in the rest of the 1940 season.
Babe Ruth also hit two home runs in a game where he pitched, but he started off the game in the outfield. He’s also Babe Ruth, so that doesn’t count.
It more unlikely than not that a Yankee pitcher will hit two home runs in a game again.
All data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index