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On This Date in Sports May 28, 1956: Long Streak

in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes history by hitting a home run in his eighth straight games. The eight games top the old mark that was held by five different players. It would take 31 years before Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees matched the eighth-game home run streak. Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners would also have home runs in eight consecutive games in 1993. No player has ever had a longer streak.

 

Dale Long was born on February 6, 1926, in Springfield, Missouri. A two-sport athlete Long turned down a chance to play for the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, before choosing to play baseball. Dale Long spent six years in the minors with five different organizations, before making his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1951. He appeared in ten games with Pittsburgh before being picked up on waivers by the St. Louis Browns.

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates purchased Dale Long’s contract after the 1951 season. The next three seasons saw Long continuing to ride the busses of the minor leagues. A definitive journeyman Dale Long made it back to the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955. Long played 130 games with Pittsburgh in 1955, hitting 16 home runs, with 79 RBI and .291 average.

 

Heading into the streak, Dale Long was off to a great start in 1956, batting .384 with six home runs. The streak began on May 19th with a home run off Sam Jones of the Chicago Cubs as the Pirates won 7-4 at Forbes Field. The next day it was a three-run home run off Ray Crone as the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Braves 6-3 at Forbes Field. Not even Warren Spahn was spared from the Long Home Run streak, as he reached three games at the Pirates downed the Braves 5-0 to sweep the doubleheader. The streak was extended to four games when Dale Long hit a home run off Hermeier on May 22nd, as the Pirates were beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 at Forbes Field. The Pirates bounced back the next day, as Long homered of Lindy McDaniel as the Pirates beat the Redbird 6-0.

 

Dale Long and the Pirates took the home run streak on the road, as he tied the record of six straight games with a home run by going deep against Curt Simmons and the Philadelphia Phillies, as the Pirates won 8-5 at Connie Mack Stadium. The previous five players to have six straight games with a home run were Ken Williams of St. Louis Browns in 1922. George “High Pockets” Kelly of the New York Giants was the first in the National League with six straight games with a dinger in 1924. Lou Gehrig, in the midst of his ironman streak, had six consecutive games with a home run with the New York Yankees in 1931. Two other Giants Walt Cooper in 1947 and Willie Mays in 1955 joined Kelly with the National League record.

 

Those five players failed to hit a home run in a seventh straight game. Dale Long reached seven games with a home run in the eighth inning against Ben Flowers as the Buccos beat the Phillies 6-2. Returning to Forbes Field, Dale Long made it eight games with a home run with a shot off Carl Erskine of the Brooklyn Dodgers, as the Pirates won 3-2. The streak would end on May 29th as Dale Long went hitless in four at-bats against Don Newcombe as the Dodgers pounded the Pirates 10-1.

Over the eight games, Dale Long had 15 hits in 30 at-bats, batting .500 with nine runs scored, eight home runs and 19 RBI as Pittsburgh won seven of eight games. Long would have a career-best 27 home runs in 1956, making his only All-Star appearance. Following the 1956 season, Long returned to anonymity as he bounced around four teams over his final seven seasons, retiring with the New York Yankees in 1963.