On Monday night, shortly after Renato Nunez hit his 26th home run of the season, and with Matt Olson already having hit 30 on the year, a question was asked on Twitter if the Stockton Ports have ever had two players in the same season hit at least 30 home runs. As one of very few people that have been with the Ports since before Banner Island Ballpark, I was pretty sure that the answer to that was not only no but that it was not even close.
Motivated to go back and take a look through the years at Billy Hebert Field, a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, I went through and the answer is not only no there hasn't been two players to hit 30 home runs for the Ports in the same season, but there hasn't been two players that have hit more than the 25 home runs in the same season in Ports' history before Olson and Nunez this season.
Twice in Ports' history, Stockton has had multiple players hit at least 21 home runs in a season. Mike Spina hit 23 and Stephen Parker hit 21 back in 2010. And it was just last season that the Ports not only had two guys hit 21 home runs in a season but they had three guys all end the year with 21 home runs as Max Muncy, Dusty Robinson and B.A. Vollmuth tied for the team lead in homers.
Currently in the 10th season of playing at Banner Island Ballpark, the Stockton Ports, since moving to the beautiful hitter-friendly ballpark in 2005, have had 18 players, including Matt Olson and Renato Nunez already this season, hit at least 20 home runs in a season. To put that in some perspective, the final 10 years the Ports played at Billy Hebert Field, a very pitcher-friendly park, they only had four players hit at least 20 home runs in a season. Going back even further, the Ports had just a total of 20 players hit 20 home runs or more in a season between 1946 and 2004.
The best home run season total before 2005 was by Roger Freed in 1968, who hit 31 home runs. Freed would eventually make the Major Leagues in 1970 with the Baltimore Orioles. Second-best with 30 home runs in a season was player-manager Vince DiMaggio who went back to the minor leagues to play and coach after a 10-year MLB career and was with the Ports in 1948. The only other player to hit 30 home runs in a season at Billy Hebert Field was Mike Epstein in 1965, as he was named the California League MVP that season and he would eventually go on to win a World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1972.
Chris Carter broke Roger Freed's team record for home runs in a season back in 2008 when he hit 39 runs. Michael Choice, who hit 30 home runs in 2011, currently is tied for 3rd with DiMaggio, Epstein and current Ports; slugger Matt Olson, who has a month left to try and catch Chris Carter's mark. Renato Nunez also has a good chance to end the season among the top-three single-season home run totals in Ports' history as he currently has 26. Nunez already has become the 14th player since 2005 to drive-in at least 75 runs.
Since becoming an A's affiliate in 2005, the Ports have had three players drive in 100 runs in a season -- Danny Putnam in 2005 and then Myron Leslie in 2006 each drove in exactly 100 runs before Chris Carter once again put his name at the top of the list when he drove in 104 in 2008. Matt Olson and Ryon Healy should become the next Ports this season to reach the 75 runs batted in mark, as Olson currently has 72 and Healy, after a grand slam home run on Wednesday night, now had 71 runs batted in this season.
One other mark that Matt Olson and Renato Nunez are chasing is the best combined home run season between two players. They currently have 56 home runs between the two. That total trails the 57 home runs that Chris Carter and current Oakland A's All-Star closer Sean Doolittle combined to hit during the 2008 season when Doolittle hit a second-best 18 home runs to go along with Carter's team-record 39.
Championship Series History
The last time the Stockton Ports reached the California League championship series was in 2011, when the Ports lost to the Lake Elsinore Storm, 3-1, in the best of five series. The one win in the championship series was thrown by A.J. Griffin, who pitched seven innings and allowed just one run in the Game Three win. In the final game of the series, it was current Sacramento River Cats 1B Nate Freiman who hit two home runs for the Storm, as he was named the championship series MVP.
In 2008, Chris Carter not only set the Stockton Ports' team record for home runs in a season with 39 but he led the Ports to their 11th championship in team history, and first since 2002. The Ports defeated the Lancaster Jethawks, 3-1, in the best of five series. On a team that also had Tyson Ross pitching and Josh Donaldson catching, it was OF Archie Gilbert that was named the championship series MVP.
Famous For An Unfortunate Reason
Not often does the name of an old manager stand out but the name of 1985 Stockton Ports skipper Tom Gamboa stood out when going through old stats. For those that don't remember or recognize the name, he was the first base coach with the Kansas City Royals who was shockingly attacked by a father and son after they ran on the field during a Chicago White Sox game at Comiskey Park in 2002.
Led by Gamboa, the Ports, in his only season in charge of the team, went 82-63 and reached the California League championship as they lost 3-2 in the best of five finals against the Fresno Giants.