Every position player in baseball dreams of one day hitting for the cycle. It’s a rare occurrence when one hits a single, double, triple and home run in one game.
It’s only happened 343 times since the first in 1882 by Curry Foley. The most recent was Cincinnati Reds rookie Elly De La Cruz’s on June 23.
So, when fellow rookie and Baltimore Orioles phenom Gunnar Henderson smashed a ball down the right-field line against the Oakland Athletics, his teammates and the crowd began cheering because he needed just a single to complete his cycle.
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But Henderson did the unthinkable: He ran to second base for another double.
“You know what? Gunnar Henderson is not going to stop at first,” the Orioles’ play-by-play announcer said during the 12-1 win for Baltimore. “Who needs a cycle when you can pick up your fourth extra-base hit of the game? The Orioles bench is saying he should’ve stopped at first.”
The camera panned to the Orioles’ dugout, showing a group of Henderson’s teammates and coaches who looked completely dumbfounded by what they witnessed. Many had their hands up trying to figure out why Henderson didn’t just stop.
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The Orioles were already up 10-1 in the contest in the top of the eighth, so it wasn’t like Henderson taking an extra bag was going to massively help the team’s chances at winning. The probability of that was already through the roof.
But instead of collecting the 13th cycle in franchise history – outfielder Cedric Mullins accomplished the feat on May 12 – he wanted his first career four extra-base-hit game.
Henderson grinned at second base and even shrugged as he looked at his teammates. Replay showed that he was sprinting out of the box despite seeing the ball rocket past the Athletics’ first baseman – he clearly had double on his mind.
Henderson has been one of the reasons for the Orioles’ surge this season, slashing .249/.331/.484 with 21 homers and 61 RBI over 113 games after this contest. The 22-year-old is just getting started in his MLB career and has shown why he was one of the organization’s top prospects as a second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
After passing up on making team and league history, Henderson is also proving to the Orioles that the personal accolades don’t trump winning and doing the right thing when an extra base is available on the diamond.
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In this case, though, his teammates and coaches didn’t mind if he stopped at first base to accomplish that feat every hitter dreams of.