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1950s / Gene Stephens 3-Hit Inning
On June 18, 1953, 20-year-old Gene Stephens collected three hits in one inning for the Boston Red Sox during a 23-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. The Bosox exploded for 17 runs in the seventh inning - sending 23 batters to the plate during their 47-minute half of the frame. Stephens had a double and two singles off three different Detroit pitchers. The 17 runs scored by Boston in that inning were two more than the previous modern MLB record, set by the Brooklyn Dodgers in a May 21, 1952, contest against the Cincinnati Reds. The Red Sox had 14 hits in their memorable inning to set a new modern MLB mark in that category. Gene Stephens was mostly a reserve player in his 12 MLB seasons. His batting average was only .204 in 1953, making his three-hit inning on June 18 even more surprising. The Red Sox led 5-3 going into their half of the seventh inning. Detroit pitcher Steve Gromek allowed nine of the 17 runs while Dick Weik and Earl Harrist each allowed four. Boston had 27 total hits in the game. The day before, they had 20 hits when they walloped Detroit 17-1. “I was the youngest ballplayer in the major leagues at the time,” Stephens recalled years later, whose three-hit performance was witnessed by only 3,108 Fenway fans that afternoon. “I probably shouldn’t have even been in the major leagues at that time. Ted Williams had gone to the Korean War and, therefore, that gave me the opportunity to play. As soon as [Williams] came back, the Red Sox optioned me down to their AAA team in Louisville." The all-time record for most runs scored in an inning is 18, set by the Chicago White Stockings against the Detroit Wolverines on Sept. 6, 1883, in a National League affair. During that onslaught (also in the seventh inning), three different Chicago players had three hits in the frame: Tommy Burns (two doubles, one home run), Fred Pfeffer (two singles, one double), and Ned Williamson (two singles, one double). The only other hitter in modern MLB history (since 1900) with three hits in one inning was Johnny Damon, who was also a member of the Boston Red Sox. Damon achieved his feat when Boston whipped the Florida Marlins 25-8 on June 27, 2003. Damon collected three hits (a single, double, and triple) in the first inning as the Bosox scored a record 10 runs before any Boston batter was put out.