If you believe in the multiverse, there’s a universe where Bob Horner set the all-time home run record. Horner was a great hitter with tremendous power. As a young prospect in the Braves organization, he was projected to be a home run champion, maybe even a batting champ.
But Horner struggled with injuries in his major league career and never got to the 500-home run mark. Or the 300-home run mark, for that matter. But he frequently showed the ability that made so many baseball experts excited about his future.
By the time he was 22, Horner had 91 home runs. He hit 30 home runs in each of his first three full seasons in the big leagues. In 1978, Horner smacked 23 home runs as a rookie despite not making his MLB debut until mid-June. He was named Rookie of the Year that season, and received MVP votes the following two years.
By 1986, Horner was in his ninth MLB season, but still hadn’t reached his 29th birthday. Knee and back injuries had robbed him of about 300 games with stints on the disabled list. But, for one night in Atlanta at Fulton County Stadium, Bob showed his amazing power in a game against Montreal. That evening, Horner hit four home runs against the Expos, tying the single-game record.
“I couldn’t believe it when that [last] ball went over the fence,” Horner said after his performance. “I was not even thinking about running, I just watched it and was amazed at myself.”
Horner became just the 11th player in baseball history to hit four homers in a game. Since, seven others have achieved it.
Horner hit 27 home runs for the Braves in 1986, his final season in an Atlanta uniform. After the year he accepted a lucrative offer to play in Japan, and hit 30 homers in that country. When he came back a year later to play for St. Louis, Horner again suffered nagging injuries.
Horner retired with 218 home runs, 215 of them with the Braves, which ranks eighth in franchise history. His career .508 slugging with Atlanta is 11th all-time for the Braves.