A lot of people today forget how the game was in the early 1990’s. The Cubs and Braves thanks to WGN and TBS respectively rivaled the Yankee’s in popularity. The Atlanta Braves held an advantage over the Cubs at the time because the Braves were the better team. In my home town every kid was a Braves fan, with a few Cubs fans scattered about.

WGN and TBS also had a habit of showing a lot of the same horrible TV shows, even at the same time. My sister and I would fight over the TV after school I wanted to watch baseball which would sometimes start in the early afternoon. WGN and TBS both played the Brady Bunch at the same time, well actually in those days TBS used to start every thing five minutes later then everyone else.

We would fight or come up with a game to decide who would have reign over the TV, if the Braves weren’t on I would watch the Cub’s and when the Braves would play, the Cub’s the game would be on both channels with a slight delay between the two. If she won we would have to watch the Brady Bunch.

More than once I was able to trick my sister into letting me watch the game on that day in exchange for the next three of four days. Those days would always be when the Braves played the Cubs and I got to watch by default. To this day I am not sure she ever caught on.

But on opening day 1994 something happened that it seems everyone but me forgot about.

Hillary Clinton threw out the first pitch to kick off the season as the Cubs faced the Mets with Dwight Gooden on the mound. There was something great about Baseball in the 1990’s before the labor strike killed the game and steroids became as common as peanuts and cracker jacks.

The way I remember it is like this. Some kid named Tuffy Rhodes no one has ever heard of came out of no where and clocked five home runs, one each time at bat and ran as fast as a lightning bolt around the bases. Then he disappeared and has never been heard from again.

I was wrong. Tuffy Rhodes only hit three home runs that game. Still damn impressive, even if it pales in comparison to the game I remember in my mind as a twelve year old boy. I did remember correctly that he hit those home runs to different areas of the park and off of different pitches. And he didn’t disappear after that game into the mist like a baseball God never to be seen again, he stuck around until 1995 when he became a free agent and went to Japan.

He wasn’t done though in 2007 he returned to the game in Japan with the Orix Buffalo’s and hit a home run in his first game.

He played for 13 years in Japan breaking records and wowing crowds. He had 464 home runs 1,269 RBIs and 1,792 hits.

For a man with an impressive career he is largely forgotten in the United States. Sure most of his career happened in Japan. Even among Cubs fans Tuffy is at best a very faded memory but for one day in 1994 he was king of baseball.

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