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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.

Cole Hamels pitched brilliantly in his Cubs home debut. Nationals starter Maz Scherzer was even better. But you know what was best of all? The Cubs' David Bote.

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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