The last time a Syracuse Chiefs batter blasted four home runs in one game was 34 years ago when Native American outfielder Gene Locklear did it on July 14, 1977 against the Columbus Clippers at Franklin County Stadium in Ohio.
Much to the delight of some 2,500 Syracuse baseball fans, however, Michael Aubrey swatted his four four-baggers right here at home at Alliance Bank Stadium, on Saturday, May 14, against the Durham Bulls.
After hitting 22 homers for Norfolk last year, the 29-year-old Aubrey was expected to bring some bang to the Chiefs' lineup this season, but he entered Saturday's game with a meager .203 batting average and not a single dinger in the first five weeks of the 2011 International League season.
"I'd been hitting balls hard but had no luck," the Shreveport native explained after Saturday's swatfest. "After I hit that first one today, that was a real confidence-booster."
On Monday, Aubrey was named IL Batter of the Week.
He becomes just the tenth man in the 127-year history of the International League ever to hit four home runs in one game.
The Bulls had put Syracuse to shame on Friday the 13th, rallying against reliever Collin Balester to bury the home team 9-2 in the series opener. But on Saturday, with rain falling intermittently, the Chiefs turned the tables.
With drizzle dripping from his helmet, Aubrey - a 190-pound left-handed batter - stepped up to the plate in the first inning to face Durham right-hander Jeremy Hall. Syracuse's Chris Marrero stood on second after hitting an RBI double to put the Chiefs ahead 1-0.
Hall threw Aubrey a changeup, and the designated hitter jumped on it, sending the ball deep into the gap in right-center.
"I really got the barrel on it," Aubrey said. It carried 380 feet for a two-run homer.