1896 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty became the second major league player to hit four home runs in one game on this date in 1896. Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters (the current Atlanta Braves) was the first to do it in 1894.
Despite Delahanty’s display of power, the Chicago Cubs beat the Phillies at old West Side Grounds in Chicago, 9 to 8.
Reports indicate Delahanty’s four home runs were all inside-the-park, which was common in those days. While the stands were reachable down the foul lines at 340 feet, centerfield was well over 500 feet – a lot of room for a ball to roll around in, and a chance for a hitter to run all the way home.
Delahanty had a fine career. He hit over .400 three times, finished with a lifetime average of .346, drove in 1,464 runs and scored 1,599 times in a 16-year career.
He met a tragic and mysterious end, however. Exactly what happened is not known, but on July 2, 1903 he fell into Niagara Falls. His mangled body was pulled from the falls seven days later. The story is, while traveling by train through Niagara Falls after playing in Detroit, Delahanty was kicked off the train for being drunk and disorderly. He was last seen walking across the bridge over the falls. Some questioned whether Delahanty fell, suggesting he may have met with foul play.
Regardless of the circumstances of his death, Ed Delahanty lives on in Cooperstown. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.