City of Rensselaer honors first Major League Baseball grand slam with commemorative stone
Roger Connor hit ‘ultimate’ grand slam nearly 140 years ago
RENSSELAER, N.Y. (Sept. 10, 2019) — The City of Rensselaer, along with local and state officials, prominent local historians, and business owners honored the first Major League Baseball grand slam with the unveiling of a commemorative stone in Riverfront Park.
Situated between the Hudson River and Broadway, in the shadow of the Dunn Memorial Bridge, marks the spot where Major League Baseball history was made more than a century ago. Roger Connor made history when he hit a grand slam for the Troy Trojans of the National League in a game against the Worcester Ruby Legs. Both teams were to meet on Sept. 10, 1881 — originally in Troy, N.Y. as scheduled, but due to rain their regular field was unplayable.
Officials decided to move the game to Rensselaer’s Riverfront Park, which back then was known as Bonacker Island in East Albany.
The Worcester Ruby Legs held the lead going into the bottom of the ninth during that game. However, things would take a turn for the better when the Troy Trojans had their turn at bat. Quickly the bases became loaded with two outs, when Roger Connor stepped up to bat, he hit a inside the park ultimate grand slam to give the Troy Trojans a stunning 8–7 win. There would not be another walk-off grand slam until Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees completed the feat on Sept. 24, 1925.
“The City of Rensselaer is honored to lay claim to this piece of baseball history,” said Mayor Richard J. Mooney. “It is important that we acknowledge and pay homage to the history that graced our city centuries ago, with this commemorative plaque we are doing just that.”
“The Capital Region has a rich history and it is always welcome news when a new historical fact is uncovered. Great job by Matt Malette on his diligent research and for the discovery that the City of Rensselaer is home to the first-ever grand slam in baseball,” said Assemblymember John T. McDonald.
“Roger Connor certainly did not know the impact that he would have on today’s MLB history or the impact he would have on this small city. With this commemorative plaque baseball lovers near and far can visit this historical site and get a taste of what the City of Rensselaer has to offer,” said Senator Neil D. Breslin.
City Common Councilmember Bryan Leahey led efforts to uncover this historical gem for the City of Rensselaer. John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball, and Matt Malette a local historian and creator of Albany Archives became interested in the historical moment,which lead to a subtle argument on where the grand slam was hit.Both historians later confirmed and agreed that the grand slam did in fact take place in Rensselaer’s Riverfront Park — which for many years was attributed to Albany.
During MLB history, home runs were frowned upon because the game was meant to be played with strategy. Today, home runs and grand slams are commonplace, as many baseball fans attend games hoping to catch their favorite players’ home run in the stands.
About the City of Rensselaer. Situated on the Banks of the Hudson, the City of Rensselaer is a small city with a rich history and a wide potential for future growth. With direct access to locations like New York City, Boston, and Montreal, the city is at a crossroads of industry and innovation. Its proximity to the Hudson River Waterfront and breathtaking views of Albany lends itself to an experience that combines metropolitan living with a close-knit sense of community. The 9,400 residents in Rensselaer are increasing every day, with the population growing 21 percent from 2000 to 2010. Rensselaer has cemented its historical legacy as one of the Capital Region’s most important centers of trade and commerce for over 375 years, beginning as a railroad town and transitioning into a modern, professional, and accessible Transit Village. RensselaerNY.gov