May 10, 2011, 6:30 PM EDT
It was May 10, 1996.
Ernie Young, a 26-year-old center fielder getting his first real shot in the majors, blasted three homers as the A’s beat the Twins 15-5. He had entered the game with three homers in 164 career at-bats, the lowest previous homer total for anyone who has ever had a three-homer game.
(The last of those homers came off LaTroy Hawkins, one of two players from the game still active today. The other, Jason Giambi, started at third base for Oakland. Steve Wojciechowski and Frankie Rodriguez were the starters.)
Young went on to hit 19 homers that season, but he finished with a mediocre .242/.326/.424 line. The A’s kept him around in 1997, but as he continued to struggle, they went to Damon Mashore in center field instead.
Aside from a year in Japan in 2002, Young spent most of the rest of his career tearing up Triple-A pitching. At 31, he was the oldest player on the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team that took home gold in Sydney. He made his final major league appearance with the Tigers in 2004, but he played until he was 37 and hit 319 minor league homers in all. In parts of 13 seasons in Triple-A, he hit .282/.371/.502 with 245 homers. He hit .225/.310/.378 with 27 homers in 908 at-bats as a major leaguer.
Today, Young is managing in the Tigers system with the West Michican Whitecaps of the Midwest League.
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