Tony Cloninger was born on August 13, 1940, in North Carolina and was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1958. He was a right handed pitcher that pitched with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1961-1968, Cincinnati Reds from 1968-1971 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972. He had a stellar career on the mound for the Braves, but today we aren’t looking into his throwing ability, we’ll be diving into another aspect of his game.
On July 3, 1966 Cloninger took the mound for the Atlanta Braves against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. Tony would work his way in and out of innings going the complete game on the mound striking out 5 and giving up 3 earned runs.
But going back to the first inning, after a three run home run by Joe Torre, Frank Bolling and Woody Woodward would single, then Denis Menke drew a walk, leading to Tony Cloninger to walk to the plate with the bases loaded. Cloninger would drive a ball deep in between left and center field hitting his first career grand slam and fourth career home run.
Then, in the top of the 4th inning the Braves offense was at it again. With Torre, Bolling and Menke again loading the bases, Cloninger took another trip to the plate. He would come through again, hitting another blast and recording his second grand slam home run of the game. Tony became the first player in the National League, and only pitcher to date, to hit two grand slams in the same game.
He ended the game, obviously the player of the game, going 3-5 with nine RBI’s and a complete game W on the mound. The Braves won this match up against the Giants 17-3.
While being a member of the Braves teams he won 86 games ( 113 career) with a 3.94 ERA while on the mound and while at the plate he hit six home runs (11 career), 50 RBI’s (67 career), and a .189 batting average (.192 career). But on July 3rd 1966 Cloninger was the total package.