In his lone full season as a member of the Florida Marlins, switch-hitting third baseman Bobby Bonilla came through with a number of clutch hits, which included some clutch home runs.
That included a walk-off grand slam on this day 25 years ago. The blast came during a 10-pitch at-bat as the Marlins rallied to top the Colorado Rockies, 9-6.
Colorado closer Jerry DiPoto was one out away from getting out of trouble on Sept. 16, 1997. With the Rockies leading 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth and runners on the corners with one out, Florida shortstop Edgar Renteria hit a grounder to third base. Colorado’s Vinny Castilla was able to get the lead runner, Craig Counsell, at home.
After Gary Sheffield walked, Bonilla came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Bonilla had hits in his first two at-bats, but for the Marlins to win, he was going to need a third.
DiPoto quickly got ahead in the count 1-2, but Bonilla battled. With two strikes, Bonilla fouled off five pitches before getting a high fastball that he could handle. On a 2-2 pitch, Bonilla lifted one well into the seats in right field for a grand slam.
Bonilla’s blast ended the scoring but in the first inning, it was his RBI single that got it started. After tying the game in the second, Colorado went ahead with three runs in the third with two coming on a home run from Castilla.
The Marlins answered with three runs in the fourth. Bookended by solo home runs from Sheffield and Moises Alou, Bonilla scored on a wild pitch.
With the score tied 4-4, the Rockies opened the fifth with back-to-back home runs from Larry Walker and Andres Galarraga. Jeff Conine countered for the Marlins with a solo shot of his own in the sixth. While DiPoto took the loss for Colorado, Jay Powell worked two scoreless innings to earn the win for the Marlins.
During the 1997 season, Bonilla finished with a .297 average, 17 home runs and 96 RBIs. Over his final four seasons that followed, Bonilla’s production dipped significantly as he never came close to reaching those totals again.
Bonilla would end up hitting the last home run of the season for the Marlins as his solo shot to lead off the bottom of the seventh in Game 7 of the World Series got Florida on the board in an eventual 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. The final walk-off homer of his career was a grand slam to cap a 10-pitch at-bat.
It came on this day a quarter-century ago.