Back on April 17, 1976, the Phillies’ Mike Schmidt clubbed 4 homers with 8 RBI in a wild 18-16 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the only 4 HR game of the decade. Schmidt also had a single in the game, going 5-6 in all, for a decade-best 17 total bases. An interesting side note: Philly trailed in the game 12-1 and 13-2. There were 57 3 HR games in the 70s; Schmidt had one and Dave Kingman had the most with 4, 3 as a Cub and 1 for the Mets.
As part of his magical 1975 rookie season, Boston’s Fred Lynn had a 3 HR game, and also added a triple and single, going 5-6 with a decade-best 10 RBI in a 15-1 drubbing over Detroit. Other decade bests in a single game include 5 runs scored (done 20 times), 4 Doubles (done by Dave Duncan of Baltimore, Jim Mason of the Yankees, and Boston’s Orlando Cepeda), and 5 Stolen Bases (Bert Campaneris for Oakland, Dave Lopes for the Dodgers, and Amos Otis of Kansas City). Steve Garvey (for the Dodgers in 1977) and Willie Stargell (for Pittsburgh in 1970) were the only players with 5 extra-base hits in a game, each registering 2 HR and 3 doubles.
In 1975, Pittsburgh’s Rennie Stennett set a 9-inning game record (also against the Cubs at Wrigley) with 7 hits – 4 singles, 2 doubles and a triple in a 22-0 blowout. In 1970 Cesar Gutierrez, a shortstop for Detroit, also had 7 hits, in a 12-inning 9-8 win over Cleveland. The only other 2 players to ever record as many hits were Detroit’s Rocky Colavito, who had 7 in a 1962 22-inning loss to the Yankees, and Johnny Burnett of Cleveland, who registered 9 hits in an 18 inning game back in 1932.
Finally, what about the best post-season offensive performances in the decade? George Brett of Kansas City hit 3 home runs in a 1978 ALCS loss to the Yankees, and in 1971 Bob Robertson of Pittsburgh had 3 HR, a double and 5 RBI in a 9-4 NLCS win over San Francisco. In the 1977 World Series Reggie Jackson went 3-3 with a walk and 5 RBI, hitting 3 HR on consecutive pitches thrown to him as the Yankees closed out the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 6. And in the decade’s final game, the Pirates’ Willie Stargell went 4-5 with a double and a home run in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series, a 4-1 victory over Baltimore.
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On July 20, 1976, our dad took us t see the Tigers play the Twins at Met Stadium. Rookie phenom Mark Fidrych beat the Twins but Tony Oliva went 4 for 4 on two really bad knees. The 4 hits may not seem like a big deal but it was the last great display from a great hitter who was playing through two bad knees.
My choice for “THE DECADE’S BEST SINGLE GAME HITTING PERFORMANCE” would be Dave Kingman in the 23-22 game on May 17, 1979 game against the Phillies. Kingman had 3 HRs, 12 total bases, 6 RBIs, 3 2-out RBIs, 4 Runs, .292 BA, .393 OBP, .625 SLG, 1.018 OPS.