A game full of firsts includes Palmeiro’s first Eutaw Street home run
Box score: April 3, 1996
Rafael Palmeiro’s accomplishments with the Orioles came into question immediately following his suspension in 2005 for steroid use. However, the uncertainty surrounding Palmeiro’s first long ball visit to Eutaw Street has nothing to do with steroids. Rather, the question surrounded whether the ball actually made it to Eutaw Street.
Writers from The Sun and Washington Post – Buster Olney and Mark Maske, respectively – indicated that Palmeiro’s second-inning home run bounced off of the fence in front of Eutaw Street in right-center field and bounced back toward the stands. However, Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital indicated that the ball bounced off of the canopy for Boog’s Barbecue.
It seems the decision makers at Camden Yards sided with the latter telling; the towering 412-foot blast is marked with a bronze plaque on the sidewalk and therefore stands as the first of Palmeiro’s four Eutaw Street home runs. No other hitter has reached Eutaw Street as often.
Palmeiro’s homer off of Mark Gubicza on April 3, 1996, was the second consecutive Eutaw Street home run by an Oriole after Kevin Bass became the first Bird to do so the season prior. Brady Anderson would extend the O’s bronze bomber streak to three just a few weeks later, during a busy 1996 season. Seven Eutaw Street home runs were hit that year, a mark that is second only to the eight that were hit in 2008.
Including Palmeiro’s April 3 home run, all but one of the first four Eutaw Street shots came during multi-homer innings. Roberto Alomar and Palmeiro hit back-to-back homers in the second inning of the Birds’ 7-1 victory over Kansas City. Alomar’s home run was his first as an Oriole. Cal Ripken, B.J. Surhoff, and Bobby Bonilla also had RBI hits for the Birds on the day.
David Wells picked up his first win for the O’s with seven strong innings of pitching that included six strikeouts, three walks, five hits, and one earned run. Wells finished the 1996 season, his only year in Baltimore, with an 11-14 record. His 5.14 ERA was the third-worst mark in his 21 major league seasons.
One of the few Royals highlights on the evening was a seventh-inning triple play, as described below by The Sun.
The Orioles had the game well in hand in the seventh, when Alomar singled and moved to third on a single by Palmeiro. Then Bobby Bonilla slashed a grounder toward third; Joe Randa gloved it and stared at Alomar, chasing him back to third, then threw to second. Bip Roberts forced out Palmeiro at second and threw to first to nip Bonilla (although TV replays showed Bonilla might have been safe).
As Roberts threw to first, Alomar broke from third. First baseman Bob Hamelin fired home to catcher Sal Fasano, who planted his left foot in front of the plate. Alomar beat the throw, but reaching around Fasano’s foot, he never touched home, and was called out by home plate umpire Rick Reed, the first time the Orioles were the victim of a triple play since Aug. 30, 1993. Replay also showed Fasano never tagged Alomar.
“If it was close,” Johnson said, “I might’ve argued more. I’m still not sure he touched him.”