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March 20, 1985 St. Petersburg Times (Phil Ross)

Slammin' Phil Ross: Saint Leo Baseball Captain Cracks Two 4-Baggers in Same Inning
St. Petersburg Times
March 20, 1985
By Dave Dye

SAINT LEO, FL:  Two grand slams in a single inning later, he has become known as the Bambino of Saint Leo.

Phil Ross, senior first baseman and captain of the Saint Leo College baseball team, earned his Ruthian-like status Monday afternoon with a feat about as unique as ball five.  During the second inning of the Monarchs 28-8 slaughter of Florida A&M, Ross pounded two bases-loaded home runs.

It is like scoring two hat tricks in a period, two holes-in-one on a nine, two 12-packs in an hour.

"It is one of those days a baseball player always dreams about," said Ross, who went 3-for-4, scored four runs and had 11 runs batted in before getting lifted after four innings.

The double-slam routing helped Ross take his mind off the disastrous tornado that had struck his hometown of Venice early Sunday morning.  The twister, which killed two, injured more than 40 and destroyed or damaged as many as 300 structures in the Sarasota County town, hit "three miles from our house," he said.

"That had really been bothering me before the game," Ross added.  "I tried to get ahold of my parents beforehand but the lines were down.  I can tell you exactly the spot the tornado hit.  Two of my friends' houses were destroyed, in fact.  I just figure if anything happened to our place they (his mother and father) would have called."

Once the bases were jammed, though, the tornado was forgotten.  "When the game starts, you have to block anything like that out and concentrate," Ross said.  "I guess the day started as a nightmare and turned into a dream."

That two-slams-in-an-inning has never been realized on the major-league level, according to the baseball commissioners' office.  On seven occasions, players have hit two bases-loaded homers in a game—the most recent being Frank Robinson for the Baltimore Orioles in 1970—but never in the same inning.

At the college level, the act could be just as rare, but historians aren't positive.  Collegiate baseball statistics were never compiled on a nation-wide basis until a few years ago.  The Collegiate Baseball Record Book, put out by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, has no listing of a feat such as Ross' grand slams.

Central Florida sports information director Neil LaBar, who researched Division II and III records for the book, said, "As far as I know, it's a record.  I really think that if it had been done before, we would have come across it.  Until someone challenges it with another case, we'll consider it a record."

Said Georgia Southern's Hank Schomber, who researched Division I records:  "We don't have it in our book, but I kind of recall somebody out East hitting two grand slams in the same inning last year or the year before.  But I would think it's safe to say that, if nothing else, he at least tied a college baseball record.

Ross celebrated his historic moment by studying in the library Monday night.  "He really didn't show that much emotion about the whole thing," said Ross' teammate and roommate, pitcher Don Frazier.  "He ran around the bases like it was nothing.  We finally got him to crack a smile about the time he touched home plate after the second one.  He really said very little about it."

But Ross remembers.  And he won't forget.

The first one?  "Oh yeah," he said, "that one was lucky.  I was guessing fastball up and that's what I got."  No. 1 went over the 395-mark in straightaway centerfield.

Second one?  "Um, I was down 1-2.  I was looking for a curveball down and in.  That's exactly what I got.  I just went down and got it and hit it out to right field.

What's more, the next time Ross came to bat the next inning, the bases were loaded for a third straight time.  This time, Ross drove a fierce liner to center that bounced once before hitting the wall, driving in another three runs.

But 24 hours later, Ross' coach Mike Marshall, the former Cy Young winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers, had all but forgotten the grand-slam fireworks.  Part of the reason was that Ross had gone hitless on the day after the slams.  "I remember one time when I was with the Minnesota Twins and Roy Smalley was hitting .400 by the All-Star break," Marshall said. "Everybody was telling him how great he was doing.  But I don't think he even ended up hitting .300.  Statistics and records are unimportant.

"You have to put it all in perspective.  The pitching was less than adequate Monday.  Phil has a lot of ability, but he's not all there yet.  Let's not get all bent out of shape over all of this."

In other words, cut the Bambino stuff.

Happy Pitching Everybody

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