On This Date in Sports July 29, 2003: Switch Slams

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

Bill Mueller of the Boston Red Sox makes history becoming the first player to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate in the same game. Mueller had three home runs with nine RBI in the game as the Red Sox double up the Texas Rangers 14-7 at the Ballpark in Arlington. It would be a career season for Bill Mueller, who won the batting title, with a .326 average. 

Bill Mueller was born on March 17, 1971, in Maryland Heights, Missouri. After playing baseball at Southwest Missouri State and the Cape Cod League, Mueller was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 15th round of the 1993 MLB Draft. Mueller made his debut in 1996, hitting .330 in 55 games. After the Giants traded Mat Williams, Bill Mueller became the regular third baseman in San Francisco. The switch hitter hit .292 in his first season as a starter.

Following the 2000 season, Bill Mueller was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Tim Worrell. For most of his career with the Giants, Mueller was .290 hitter. Mueller continued his consistency in Chicago, batting .290 in 2001. Late in the 2002 season, he was traded back to San Francisco, for the stretch drive, but was ineligible for the postseason due to the deal coming after August 31st. Following the season, Mueller signed with the Boston Red Sox. 

In his first year in Boston, Bill Mueller enjoyed the finest season of his career. He had a career-best .326 average, to win the American League batting crown. He had a career-best 19 home runs and 85 RBI, playing for a Red Sox team that would capture the American League Wild Card at 95-67. He also won the Silver Slugger for American League third baseman.

Heading into a Tuesday night game in Arlington, the Red Sox held a record of 62-42 under manager Grady Little, while the Texas Rangers were struggling at 43-62 under Buck Showalter. The game featured a battle of knuckleballers as Tim Wakefield made the start for Boston, while R.A. Dickey started for the Rangers. Texas had the lead early, scoring a run in each of the first three innings. Boston got their first run in the third inning on a solo home run by Mueller. The Red Sox added a second run in the fourth inning on a home run by Trot Nixon. In the sixth inning, Texas made it 4-2 on a home run by Doug Glanville. 

R.A. Dickey exited the game after the fifth inning, Erasmo Ramirez pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth inning but ran into trouble in the seventh as he gave up a single to Todd Walker with one out. Showalter would replace Ramirez with Rosman Garcia.  Garcia would not retire a batter as he walked Nomar Garciaparra. Gable Kapler followed with a single that scored Walker. The next batter was David Ortiz, who gave Boston a 5-4 lead with a two-run double. Garcia would exit the game following a walk to Kevin Millar. Aaron Fultz, a left-hander, came into face Trot Nixon and issued a walk to load the bases.  Fultz had been a teammate of Mueller with the Giants and now faced him with the game on the line. Bill Mueller, who had never had more than ten home runs in a season before 2003, hit a grand slam, his second of the game, and the 12th of the season to blow the game open for Boston at 9-4. 

Aaron Fultz retired the next two batters to end the inning. In the eighth, he remained on the mound as Nomar Garciaparra hit a one-out home run to extend the lead to 10-4. After the home run, Fultz waked Gabe Kapler and struck out David Ortiz before being relieved by Jay Powell. Millar greeted Powell with a single as Nixon again walked to load the bases. For the second inning in a row, Bill Mueller came up with the bases juiced. This time he was batting left-handed after hitting a grand slam right-handed against Fultz. There have been many players that had homered from both sides of the plate in the same game, before but nobody had hit both home runs with the bases loaded until now, as Muller made it 14-4. The Rangers would score a pair of runs in the eighth and another run in the ninth, but the damage was done as the Red Sox won the game 14-7.