Sacramento River Cats

Area baseball beat: Vaughn was most powerful hitter from the region

Any discussion about Greg Vaughn must include home runs.

Vaughn, who hit 355 home runs in 15 major-league seasons, is the most powerful hitter to come out of Sacramento’s sandlots.

By the time Vaughn hit his 13th home run on July 19, 1990, he already had homered off Cy Young Award winners Bob Welch, Dennis Eckersley, Brett Saberhagen and Randy Johnson. He went on to hit homers off five more Cy Young winners: David Cone, Pat Hentgen, Jack McDowell, Rick Sutcliffe and Mark Davis.

During a career that stretched from 1989 to 2003, Vaughn also homered off Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Eckersley.

Vaughn hit his first homer off Wes Gardner of the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 17, 1989, and the last one off Mike Myers of the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 3, 2003.

He hit homers off 257pitchers in 36parks and had 268 against right-handers and 87 against left-handers.

Even more impressive, he had 30 two-homer games and one three-homer game.

Vaughn, the American Association MVP in 1989, had his first two-homer game on Sept. 13, 1989, against A’s pitchers Dave Stewart and Eckersley. Vaughn owned Stewart, slugging more homers (eight) off the right-hander than any other pitcher.

On Sept. 7, 1999, Vaughn hit three homers in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He homered off Brian McNichol in the third inning, Scott Sanders in the sixth inning and Rodney Myers in the eighth inning.

The only other players from the Sacramento area who have homered three times in a game are Alex Kampouris (Sacramento) on May 9, 1937; Jeff Blauser (Placer, Sacramento City) on July 12, 1992; Geoff Jenkins (Cordova) on April, 28, 2001, and May 21, 2003; and Dustin Pedroia (Woodland) on June 24, 2010.

Vaughn, a four-time All-Star, also went deep against two local pitchers. He hit homer No. 110 off Chris Bosio (Cordova, Sacramento City) in 1994 and No. 249 off Darren Oliver (Rio Linda) five years later.

Vaughn, whose cousin is former major-league player and manager Jerry Royster (Sacramento), homered out of every spot in the batting order: leadoff three times, second twice, third 57, fourth 141, fifth 101, sixth 29, seventh 13, eighth seven and ninth twice.

He also had three seasons with at least 100 RBIs and four seasons with 30 or more home runs, including his best season, 1998, when he hit his 50th home run for San Diego on the final day of the season.

It was the first time four players accomplished the feat in a single season. He joined Mark McGwire (70), Sammy Sosa (66) and Ken Griffey Jr. (56) in the 50-homer club.

The Padres won the National League pennant that season but were swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Vaughn, who was named the league’s Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News, hit two homers in Game 1.

With those blasts, Vaughn became the 40th player in World Series history to have a multiple-homer game. He had a chance to join Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players to hit three homers in the same game, but he grounded into a force play in his final at-bat.

In 1999, Vaughn became the only player in major-league history to be traded after a 50-homer season when the Padres sent him to the Cincinnati Reds. When he hit 45 homers with the Reds, he became the second player in major-league history to hit 40 or more homers in consecutive seasons with different teams. The first was Andres Galarraga.

In 1,731 games, Vaughn batted .242 with 1,475 hits, 1,072 RBIs, 1,017 runs scored, 284 doubles, 23 triples and 121 stolen bases.

Vaughn, whose only appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot was in 2009, might have gotten more Hall of Fame consideration if he had hit .285 or better.

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