Oliva records eight straight hits in doubleheader
A 3-for-4 day at the plate usually leaves a batter happy in the clubhouse.
On June 29, 1969, Tony Oliva’s three-hit afternoon was just a warmup for the second game of the doubleheader between the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, when he went 5-for-5 to finish the day with a hit in eight straight at-bats.
Oliva’s eight hits in a doubleheader were one short of the American League record at the time.
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“When that guy is hitting like this there just isn’t much you can do to get him out,” Kansas City manager Joe Gordon told the Associated Press.
Oliva was retired by Kansas City starter Wally Bunker in the top of the first inning on a fly ball to left field. He would record a hit in each at bat for the rest of the day.
In the top of the fourth, Oliva singled to right, driving in center fielder Ted Uhlaender and cutting his team’s deficit to two after a three-run Kansas City homer in the bottom of the first.
Oliva singled again to right in the sixth then to center in the eighth, but the Twins lost 7-2.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Oliva elected to bunt for a single despite swinging the bat well in the first game and moved center fielder César Tovar to second.
“In this game, the name is win, right?” Oliva said to the AP. “César is the leadoff man and he gets on (by a walk). So I think to bunt is a good play.”
Tovar came around to score, but the Royals took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first after a walk and back-to-back hits.
The lead was short-lived. Oliva came back to the plate in the second with his team up 4-2. The lefty blasted a three-run shot to deep right field that flew over the upper deck and out of Municipal Stadium to break the game open. The home run was measured at 517 feet from home plate in its resting spot, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“It was a slider,” Oliva said. “The longest ball I ever hit in a Minnesota uniform.”
Oliva nearly secured a three-home run game. He hit a sixth-inning home run to right field and his fourth-inning double bounced off the top of the wall.
The Twins’ right fielder wrapped up his day in the eighth with a single to center before being removed from the game for a pinch-runner. Charlie Manuel, who replaced Oliva, came up to bat in the ninth and flew out.
“I’ll settle for five hits,” Oliva told the Star Tribune about getting pulled.
It was the fourth time in his career Oliva recorded five hits in a game. He also extended his hit streak to 10 games, a period over which he hit .556 with five home runs and 17 RBI.
After five RBI in the nightcap, Oliva finished the day with eight hits in nine appearances and six RBI. He raised his batting average 18 points on the day, finishing with a .322 mark.
Oliva was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2022.
Evan Gerike is the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development