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On This Date in Sports August 21, 1999: Leading Off

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Brady Anderson of the Baltimore Orioles becomes just the third player in Major League history to lead off both games of a doubleheader with a home run. Unfortunately, it would not help the Orioles as they drop both games to the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards, losing the opener 4-3 and the nightcap 8-5 in ten innings. The feat was previously done by Harry Hooper and Rickey Henderson.

Brady Anderson was born on January 18, 1964, in Silver Springs, Maryland. Raised in Carlsbad, California, Anderson became a star at UC-Irvine, catching the eye of scouts with the Anteaters he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the tenth round of the 1985 MLB Draft. He made his debut with the Red Sox at the start of the 1988 season, but his time in Boston would be short. In a pennant race, the Red Sox looking to add a proven starter at the trade deadline shipped Anderson along with a young Curt Schilling to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Boddicker.

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With the Orioles, Brady Anderson was given the chance to develop, and in 1992 he paid off on their patience, becoming an All-Star for the first time. However, he did not show much power early in his career as his best season was 21 longballs before 1996. That year he had an unexpected power surge hitting 50 home runs. Despite the suspicions, Brady Anderson has never been linked to using steroids. He was an All-Star in 1996 and 1997 becoming a fan favorite in Baltimore, though his power numbers went back to normal.

In 1999, Brady Anderson had his second-best power season with 24 home runs, two of them made history in a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on August 21st at Camden Yards, leading off both games with a home run. Proving it is not how you start it is how you finish; the Orioles lost the opener 4-3. Things would not go better for the Orioles in the nightcap as they lost that won as well, 8-5 in ten innings. Overall, Brady Anderson went 3-for-10 in the doubleheader loss, as the Orioles managed by Ray Miller dropped to 58-64 on the season.

Hooper

The first player to hit a leadoff home run in both games of a doubleheader was Harry Hooper with the Boston Red Sox in 1913. On May 30th in a Memorial Day doubleheader at Griffith Stadium against the Washington Senators. Hooper leadoff home run was not enough in Game 1, as the Senators recorded a 4-3 win. However, his leadoff shot against Walter Johnson in Game 2 was the only run scored in 1-0 pitcher’s duel won by Ray Collins. Being in the Deadball Era it was half of Hooper’s season total as he finished the year with four dingers.

A player leading off both ends of a doubleheader with a home run would not happen again for 80 years, but the next player to do it was baseball’s all-time most prolific leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson. Henderson led off a game 81 times with a home run, by far the record. Two of those leadoff home runs came in a doubleheader on July 5, 1993, against the Cleveland Indians at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. The leadoff home run was good enough in the first game as the Oakland Athletics beat the Indians 6-5. The Tribe would bounce back to win the nightcap 6-2 despite Rickey Henderson again providing an early spark.

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No National League had led off both games of a doubleheader, until August 13, 2018, when Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves did in a twin-bill at SunTrust Park against the Miami Marlins. Acuna’s twin leadoff home runs were part of a doubleheader sweep as the Braves won the opener 9-1 and the nightcap 6-1. For good measure, Ronald Acuna Jr. came back the following night and hit another leadoff home run, in a third straight game to lead the Braves to a 10-6 win over Miami. It was just the second time a player had three straight games with a leadoff home run, as Brady Anderson did it in four straight April 18-21 during his 1996 power surge. Ronald Acuna Jr. would not get a chance to match Brady Anderson, as he was plunked in the elbow on the first pitch. The beaning would lead to a bench-clearing incident as Uerena was ejected, while Acuna was taken out of the game. Jose Uerena would receive a six-game suspension, as Ronald Acuna Jr. went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year.