Sports have some interesting sayings about things that happen during the course of play. There is the “hat trick” for a three-goal game in hockey. A “brick” is a shot that only hits the backboard in basketball. The “Hail Mary” is in American football for last-second desperation long pass.
But no sport has stranger references than baseball, which includes “around the horn, “can of corn,” and “walk-off homer.” Add to the mix is a “Golden Sombrero.” Let’s take a look at what this saying means.
What Exactly Is The Golden Sombrero In Baseball?
A golden sombrero is a term given to a player who strikes out four times in a baseball game. Generally, a four-strikeout game means the player had a terrible game and didn’t contribute to the team offensively.
However, there have been instances where a player had stuck out four times in a game and still got a hit when the team needed it the most. One example was when Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays hit a walk-off home run in 2009 after striking out in his previous four at-bats.
Do Players Wear an Actual Sombrero?
A player at the MLB level does not actually wear a sombrero for fanning four times in a game. The Philadelphia Phillies, for one, wore a homer hat after hitting a home run, but that is celebrating something good.
A sombrero for four strikeouts would be equivalent to wearing a dunce cap. You never know what player will get the Golden Sombrero. It could be a little-known rookie to a future Hall of Fame player.
Interesting Moments with the Golden Sombrero
The player with the most four-strikeout games and the king of the Golden Sombrero is Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, with 27 over a 13-year MLB career.
In 2015, Derek Norris hit a walk-off grand slam after a Golden Sombrero while playing for the San Diego Padres. Norris had 63 home runs and over 500 strikeouts in a 6-year MLB career.
Alex Rodriquez blasted 696 home runs over his career but also struck out 2287 times. Four of them game in a game at 40 in 2016, becoming the oldest player to receive the Golden Sombrero.
Are There References for Other Strikeouts?
There are references for almost anything in baseball, and the number of times striking out in a game is no exception. A “Hat Trick” represents a three-strikeout game. The “Golden Sombrero” represents a four-strikeout game. The “Olympic Rings” or “Platinum Sombrero” are terms for a five-strikeout game.
For the rarest case where a player strikeouts six times in a game, the term “Titanium Sombrero” applies.
MLB Players with the Most Four-Strikeout Games
Here is a list of batters who had the most four-strikeout games in MLB history as of July 10, 2022. It’s interesting to note that some of these players on the list are notable sluggers who are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Ryan Howard – 27
- Chis Davis – 26
- Reggie Jackson – 23
- Giancarlo Stanton – 22
- Jim Thome – 20
- Adam Dunn – 19
- Bo Jackson – 19
- Mark Reynolds – 18
- Rob Deer – 17
- Joey Gallo – 17
- Sammy Sosa – 17
Note that Sosa is the all-time leader in five-strikeout games with four.
Five Strikeout Performances That Stand Out
Here’s a list of the unique but not proud achievements of five strikeout performances in MLB history. These players received the “Olympic Rings” or the “Platinum Sombrero.”
- Ron Karkovice of the Chicago White Sox struck out five times on opening day. That’s not the best way to begin the season.
- Trevor Story was fanned five times in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.
- Aaron Judge struck out eight times in a doubleheader, including five in one game.
- During the NL Playoffs, Harrison Bader of the St. Louis Cardinals fanned five times in a game at the worst time.
Six Strikeouts Games By MLB Players
Only a select few players in MLB history have the “Titanium Sombrero” on their resume, and it’s not something that any player wants. Six punch-outs in a game are unique, but some have. Let’s take a look.
- Sam Horn – Baltimore Orioles
- Cecil Cooper – Boston Red Sox
- Billy Cowan – California Angels
- Rick Reichardt – California Angels
- Don Hoak – Chicago Cubs
- Geoff Jenkins – Milwaukee Brewers
- Carl Wellman – St. Louis Browns
- Alex Gonzalez – Toronto Blue Jays
Who Invented the Golden Sombrero?
The term originated in the 1980s from San Diego Padres first baseman Carmelo Martinez. The term began making its way around Major League Baseball and first appeared in print when Leon Durham quoted it while with the Chicago Cubs in 1984.
Fast forward nearly four decades, and the term is quite common amongst players, announcers, and fans used to describe a four-strikeout game at the plate.
Who Holds The Record For The Most Strikeouts In a Single Game?
The most strikeouts on record for a professional game are eight by Khalil Lee while playing for the Kansas City Royals Class A affiliate in 2017. He struck out eight times in 10 plate appearances in a 21-inning game.
In Todays Game Of Baseball Why are Strikeouts So Common?
Baseball has turned into a power game both from a hitting and pitching standpoint. More pitchers are firing balls in the high 90s and 100 mph, while batters are swinging more for the fences.
The heavy reliance on relief pitchers earlier in games means different looks for batters, so they are not getting used to any one pitcher for more than a single at-bat or two. Pitchers in pt eras, 40 and 50 years ago and more, went more innings and didn’t throw as hard, in general. In addition, more fundamental, base-to-base methods were used at the plate than in today’s game.
Different Ways Batters Can Reduce Strikeout Totals
One of the most frustrating things for a batter is to strike out. It’s even more frustrating when it happens multiple times in a game. Batters can do a few things to try and cut down on their strikeouts.
Focus on Making Contact: While this seems like an obvious thing to do, it’s important to keep in mind. When a batter is up to bat, their main goal should be to make contact with the ball. If they can do that, then they have a chance of getting on base.
Be Patient at The Plate: This means not swinging at bad pitches and waiting for a pitch they can hit. While this can be difficult, especially if the pitcher throws many strikes. However, if the batter can be patient, it will pay off in the long run.
Shorten Their Swing: A shorter swing means that the batter will make contact with the ball more often. It also means they’ll be less likely to strike out because a shorter swing is easier to control than a longer one.
Why Banning Defensive Shifts Could Reduce Strikeout Totals
In baseball, a shift occurs when the defense realigns itself to be more favorable to defend against a specific hitter. Commonly, this means that the infielders will move to one side of the field or the other, depending on where the hitter is most likely to hit the ball.
Some argue that shifts are bad for baseball because they lead to fewer balls being put in play. In addition, they often result in strikeouts, which many purists believe are “cheap” outs. However, evidence suggests that limiting defensive shifts can reduce strikeout totals in baseball.
This may be the case because shifting often leads to hitters chasing pitches out of the strike zone. When hitters chase pitches, they are more likely to swing and miss or to hit weak fly balls that can easily be turned into outs.
Shifts can also lead to hitters becoming frustrated, trying to do too much at the plate, making poor decisions, and swinging at bad pitches. Hitters who are “over-thinking” at the plate are also more likely to strike out. I believe it is possible that limiting defensive shifts could help to reverse this trend.
Striking out four, five, or more times in a baseball game is generally a sign of a very poor game at the plate. However, this scenario happens to even the most prolific of hitters. Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome, while slugging about 1200 home runs between them, were at the top in career strikeouts.
The expression is meant to be light-hearted, as MLB players realize such games will occur from time to time. Having received the “Golden Sombrero” doesn’t mean the player wears a hat, but it is just another one of the obscure and funny expressions that makes baseball a fantastic pastime.