On June 20, 1980, five-foot, five-inch Freddie Patek known by the nickname of “Flea” of the California Angels slugs three home runs in a game at Fenway Park. The diminutive shortstop, who will finish his career with only 41 home runs, becomes the smallest player to hit three homers in a game. Patek also contributes a double in the Angels’ 20-3 demolition of the Boston Red Sox…
After spending the 1970s playing for the Kansas City Royals, Patek signed on as a free agent with the California Angels for 1980 and, at age 35, found him part-timing it with an even older (38) Bert Campaneris and a young Dickie Thon. He hit his first home run of the year on June 10 in the bottom of the 8th vs Rudy May of the Yankees, his 2 run blast in the Angels 5-4 victory was the difference in the game. He later joked to reporters: “You won’t have to worry about me hitting another one this year.”
In his first at-bat, Patek doubled off Fenway Park’s Green Monster in left. In his next two at-bats, he cleared the green monster first vs Dick Drago in the 3rd and 5th innings, and then went deep off Jack Billingham for a remarkable third time in the eighth, giving him a career-high seven RBIs on the night as the Angels were on their way to thrashing the Red Sox, 20-2.
Patek had one more shot in the ninth, but struck out. Still, his three-homer effort—the second by a major league shortstop after Ernie Banks—was all the more impressive given his size and the fact that he never hit more than six in any one season.
Patek will hit 5 home runs for the season and drive in 34 total runs. Interestingly, Frank Tanana, the Angels ace lefty was the starting pitcher for both games in June.
This great game ranks Patek’s 3 homerun game the most improbable in baseball history.
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