OTD in 1930, a former Winston-Salem player makes MLB history with a feat that has never been matched!
Gene Rye might have been the Minor League’s version of Hack Wilson. From 1925-1936, Rye played 12 seasons in the Minors with one call to the Major Leagues in 1931, a brief 17 games with the Boston Red Sox. Rye, like Hack Wilson, was short at 5’6″, yet he had a potent bat. His size earned Gene the nickname “Half Pint.” While Rye’s stats are not as impressive as Wilson’s, Rye accomplished something Wilson never did and no other player in the Majors or Minors ever has. In 1930, while playing for the Waco Cubs of the Texas League, Rye slugged 26 HR in 128 games while batting .367. On August 6, 1930 in a home game against the Beaumont Exporters, Rye’s Cubs put up 18 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Rye came to the plate 3x that inning, hitting a HR each time at bat — making Gene Rye the first and only player to ever hit 3 HR in a single inning.
A few years earlier, in 1928, the Chicago native Rye spent the season playing for the Winston-Salem Twins of the Piedmont League. In 122 games for Winston-Salem, Rye would hit .289 with 53 extra-base hits, including 12 HR. With Rye playing outfield for the Twins, Winston-Salem would win the Piedmont League pennant in 1928 and defeat the High Point Pointers 4 games to 3 in the playoffs to claim the Piedmont League Championship.
1928 Winston-Salem Twins team:
1952 Waco News-Tribune column recapping the entire bottom of the 8th inning in 1930 when Waco scored 18 runs and Gene Rye hit 3 home runs: