Vince Barton and the 5 Home Run Game

It’s been my privilege and a pleasure to provide the Strat-O-Matic box scores, statistics, and standings for Jeff Polman’s current blog/alt-history novella Dear Hank.
Vince Barton SN pic

Dear Hank is the an alternate take on Hank Greenberg‘s 1938 season, when in real life Greenberg challenged Babe Ruth’s home run record and finished the season with 58.

I was going through Google News Archives, researching the last month of Greenberg’s season, when I came across this little blurb in the Sept 9, 1938 edition of the St. Petersburg, FL Evening Independent:

Vince Barton blurb

Vince Barton was a slugger whose Major League career lasted 102 forgettable games between 1931 and 1932. He batted .233 with 16 homers for the Chicago Cubs in that time, but did manage to lead the National League in times hit by pitch (9) in 1931, despite playing in only 66 games.

According to “Outlaw Ballplayers: Interviews and Profiles from the Independent Carolina League” by R.G. Utley, though Barton’s career record was undistinguished, his rowdiness was infamous and it was this disposition that possibly kept Barton from ever cracking the big leagues again once an eye infection during Spring Training sent him back to minor league ball in 1933.

He hit 59 home runs over two seasons in the International League before William “Mr. Henry” Whitley brought the former Major Leaguer to the independent Carolina League in 1936. According to Utley’s book:

Barton blurb Outlaw Ballplayers

On August 26, 1938, Vincent Barton truly had a moment of glory that few professional ballplayers have ever had when he hit five home runs against his former employer in Kannapolis. The boxscore from the five home run game is shown below. I was surprised to find that this achievement was not mentioned in Barton’s Wikipedia entry, nor on the website under the category of “Four or More Home Runs in a Game.”

Barton game boxscore

A native of Edmonton, Canada, on September 13, 1973, Vincent Barton died in Toronto, at the age of 65.

Edit: According to SABR member Kevin Saldana, Vince Barton’s game is not included on the aforementioned list because the independent Carolina League was a semiprofessional “outlaw” league in 1938. This list does not include four or more home runs hit in amateur, college or semiprofessional games.

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  1. Interesting but unrelated post-script: The boxscore for that game is fascinating for many reasons, but most notably to me is the fact that the game featured 25 runs, 36 hits, 3 errors, 8 walks, 5 strikeouts and was still finished in under two and a half hours!

  2. What about only three pitchers between the two teams… I found that box score in the Hickory Daily Record. There’s a lot more side story that I got when I interviewed Hickory’s bat boy from that game.

    • Absolutely, Tim! Thank you for reading and for the comment – I’d love to hear more of the story if you want to share!

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