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On This Date in Sports May 20, 1999 Robin Slams Brewers

Robin Ventura of the New York Mets becomes the first player in MLB history to hit a Grand Slam in both games of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. In the opener, Ventura belts a first-inning grand slam off Jim Abbott as the Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-10. In the nightcap, Robin Ventura lets one fly against Horacio Estrada in the fourth inning as the Mets beat the Brewers 10-1.

Robin Ventura was born on July 14, 1967, in Santa Maria, California. After starring in high school, Ventura became a three-time All-American at Oklahoma State. His college career was highlighted by an NCAA record 58-game hitting streak in 1987. In the 1988 MLB Draft, Robin Ventura was drafted tenth overall by the Chicago White Sox. Making his debut with the White Sox in 1989, Ventura spent a decade on the Southside before becoming a free agent in 1998. He would sign a four-year contract with the New York Mets.

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The Mets signed Ventura after re-signing Mike Piazza. Ventura was added to strengthen the Mets line, giving them a lefthanded power hitter to go along with Piazza in the middle of the order. Under Bobby Valentine, the Mets played well but inconsistently and were sitting at 22-18. The Milwaukee Brewers, meanwhile in their second National League season, were sitting at 18-20 under Phil Garner as they were hoping for better days when their new stadium was completed.

A day after a rainout, the Mets and Brewers ended a four-game series with a twi-night doubleheader at Shea Stadium. The Brewers had taken the first two games as the Mets looked to get back on track with Al Leiter on the mound. Leiter had struggled in the early part of the season, sitting at 1-4. The Brewers countered with Jim Abbott, who, at 0-4, was in the final season of his inspirational career. Leiter pitched around a Lou Collier double in the first inning. The Mets, meanwhile, started a two-out rally with a walk by John Olerud. Mike Piazza followed with a single as Edgardo Alfonzo was walked to load the bases. Up stepped Robin Ventura, a player who had a strong reputation with the bases juiced and was among the best grand slam hitters of all time. Ventura did not disappoint as he drove one down the right-field line to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. The Brewers got three runs in the third and tied the game on a Leiter error fielding Abbott’s bunt in the fourth. Abbott returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, mishandling Al Leiter’s bunt. The Brewers would take a 6-5 in the fifth on a double by Alex Ochoa. 

The Mets answered back in the bottom of the inning as Benny Agbayani greeted reliever Steve Falteisek with two runners on base to take an 8-6 lead. Mike Piazza homered with Olerud on board in the sixth to make it 10-6, while Agbayani hit a second homer in the seventh inning to make it 11-6. Milwaukee got back in the game on a three-run blast by Jeff Cirillo against reliever Allen Watson in the eighth. In the ninth, John Franco found trouble as Marquis Grissom led off with a double. After Bobby Hughes struck out, Franco issued a walk to Ochoa, putting the tying run on base. Ronnie Belliard flew out to right for the second out. Sean Berry followed with a high fly ball that was dropped by Alfonso down the right-field line. Grissom scored to make it 11-10 as Ochoa attempted to score the tying run. However, Roger Cedeno picked up the ball and made a perfect throw home as Piazza blocked the plate and ended the game by tagging out Ochoa to preserve an 11-10 win.

In the second game, Masato Yoshii got the start for New York, while Steve Woodard made the start for Milwaukee. Both pitchers were 3-3 entering the game. Robin Ventura got the Mets' offense started again, leading off with a double in the second inning as the Mets got a pair of RBI singles from Brian McRae and Luis Lopez. John Olerud doubled home Roger Cedeno in the third to make it 3-0, as Yoshii pitched in and out of trouble. Benny Agbayani tripled to start the third inning, scoring on a double by Lopez. Cedeno later singled home Lopez to increase the Mets' lead again. After the Mets loaded the bases, Woodard was replaced by Horacio Estrada, who came into face Robin Ventura. The move backfired as Robin Ventura again hit a grand slam to blow the game open at 9-0. The Brewers got a run on a home run by Geoff Jenkins in the sixth. Jermaine Allensworth homered in the seventh, pinch-hitting for Yoshii as the Mets won 10-1, with Rigo Beltran finishing the last two innings.

Over the two games, Robin Ventura went 3-for-7 with two grand slams, making baseball history. Robin Ventura would hit 18 Grand Slams in his major league career, tied with Willie McCovey for fifth all-time. Only Alex Rodriguez (25), Lou Gehrig (23), Manny Ramirez (21), and Eddie Murray (19) had more home runs with the bases loaded.