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Cubs' David Bote's kind of walkoff grand slam hasn't been done since the 1996 Orioles

Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam home run against the Seattle Mariners in the ninth inning to win the game in May 1996.
Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam home run against the Seattle Mariners in the ninth inning to win the game in May 1996. (John Makely / Baltimore Sun)

“Unbelievable.” That’s how Chicago Cubs infielder David Bote described it.

Bases were loaded. Two outs. Two strikes. The Chicago Cubs had surrendered the lead to the Washington Nationals, 3-0, and it looked like they were ready to take the loss lying down.

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So when Bote’s grand slam sailed 442 feet into the seats at Wrigley Field on Sunday night, handing the Cubs a 4-3 win, he wasn’t just committing something unbelievable.

The Golden Homer — a walkoff grand slam with two outs and two strikes, down by three runs — is a rare species of baseball moment. It is a very specific kind of walkoff home run that hadn’t been seen since it happened 22 years ago in a little four-year-old ballpark in Baltimore.

On May 17, 1996, Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles faced a similar kind of pressure. His Birds were down 13-10. Young shortstop Alex Rodriguez had just hit a grand slam in the top of the eighth to put the Seattle Mariners seemingly out of range.

The count was 3-2, two outs. Sunday Night Baseball announcer Jon Miller had hypothesized Hoiles just batting one deep enough for Cal Ripken to make it home from first to tie the game.

Instead, a long shot to left-center field hit the stands — about 364 feet — and Camden Yards exploded. Ripken, Bobby Bonilla and Roberto Alomar scored, and the Orioles dugout cleared to pile on Hoiles as he came home.

Said Hoiles then: “The next thing we knew, the unbelievable happened. … It's one of the greatest feelings ever. When you're coming around third and just seeing everybody standing there.”

Unbelievable.

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