Fernando Tatis was an excellent, exciting, young player in 1999. This is, perhaps, the most important piece of context to the story of his two grand slams in the same inning. Back then, he was the future of the Cardinals, and considering Mark McGwire was going to be around forever, the future was bright indeed. When tasked to choose any third baseman in baseball for the upcoming decade, Rob Neyer chose Tatis.
It turns out that Tatis wouldn’t be the best third baseman on the Cardinals within two years. He floated away, left the game, and drifted back to the Mets for a surprising renaissance toward the end of the decade, but the once-likely stardom wasn’t to be.
He’ll have to be satisfied with one of the most amazing and unlikely baseball feats of all-time, which is a pretty nifty consolation prize.
Consider that only 13 players in baseball history have hit two grand slams in one game. Anthony Rizzo, a slugger who was healthy all year and hit in the middle of a potent lineup, had only 27 plate appearances with the bases loaded for the entire 2017 season. The opportunities to hit two grand slams in the same inning just aren’t going to be there for most people. It’s not only possible for players to have a 20-year career without getting two at-bats with the bases loaded in the same inning, it’s overwhelmingly likely.
Tatis got those at-bats, and he slugged two grand slams. He hit a home run in 5.3 percent of his plate appearances that season, which meant the odds of him hitting two home runs in that inning were already close to 0.3 percent. Now factor in the odds of his teammates loading the bases ahead of him twice ... then, uh, divide by the odds of any pitcher stinking that hard, and ... uh, add the reciprocal of an entire lineup not making three outs in the time it takes to load the bases twice and get the same guy up with a chance to hit a grand slam ... you have to account for the lousy defense, too ... wait, let me take off my socks and start over.
The point is that this is an unbreakable record. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t require an eon of baseball to be played, like Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak. It can happen tonight in any of the games played. It could happen tomorrow, the next day ... anyone can tie the record, really.
But they won’t. Which is why we have come here today to celebrate Fernando Danged Tatis, who definitely did that baseball thing we still talk about today. It will never stop being hard to comprehend.