Striking out has always been frowned upon in baseball. However, Sombreros are special, even if it’s for all of the wrong reasons.
The Golden Sombrero
Also known as the Original Sombrero, the Golden Sombrero is the most common of the Sombrero. A hitter is rewarded one when he strikes out four times in one game, regardless of other outcomes. This goes for all Sombreros — a hitter can go 2 for 6 with four strikeouts and still receive a Golden Sombrero. That’s all there is too it, all one needs to do is go down on strikes — swinging, looking, or a combination of both — four times in one game.
Golden Sombrero Records and Fun Facts (records include all other sombreros, so games with a Golden Sombrero, or worse):
Most in a season by a player: Seven by Dick Allen in 1968.
Most in a career: 27 by Ryan Howard.
Most in a season: 172 in 2016.
Most players with a Golden Sombrero in a single game: Five, in a 2004 game.
The Platinum Sombrero
A Golden Sombrero is excusable, it happens to the best of them. A Platinum Sombrero, or five strikeouts in one game, is when things get hard to explain. In extra innings, sure, that’s an excuse, but when a player does it in nine innings, it’s truly incredible.
Platinum Sombrero Records and Fun Facts (records include Platinum Sombreros, and worse):
Most in a season by a player: Three by Rob Lankford in 1998.
Most in a career: Four by Sammy Sosa.
Most nine-inning Platinum Sombreros in a career: Two by Alex Rios.
Most in a season: Eight in 2013 and 2016.
Most players with a Platinum Sombrero in a game: Two, done thrice.
The Titanium Sombrero
Things get a little sketchy after the Platinum Sombrero. If a five strikeout game is inexcusable, then what is a Titanium Sombrero, or a six strikeout game? It’s almost as much on the coach for not taking him out as it is on the player for having a horrible game at the plate.
Titanium Sombrero Records and Fun Facts:
Eight players have worn the Titanium Sombrero since 1913, all of them in extra inning games.
Geoff Jenkins (2004) is the only player to take home a Titanium Sombrero in a win.
Carl Weilman (1913) is the only pitcher to wear the Titanium Sombrero, and he took his home in a tie game.
Sam Horn scored two runs (one hit and one walk) in his 1991 Titanium Sombrero.
Titanium Sombreros don’t come in bunches. The closest two came to each other was three years apart (Billy Cowan in 1971 and Cecil Cooper in 1974).
No Titanium Sombrero has happened since Jenkins in 2004.
The Diamond Sombrero
We are now in undocumented territory. So undocumented that the seven strikeout game didn’t even have a name until today (at least that I could find). Keeping the trend, I decided to go with the Diamond Sombrero, a rare gem. So rare that no one has ever done it ever in a game in MLB history. So, why are we talking about it? Well, the Diamond Sombrero has been worn by two* Minor Leaguers.
In a 1981 game, Russ Laribee would do what no player had done in a professional baseball game before. Russ Laribee invented the Diamond Sombrero. He defined it. Laribee went 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts.
It was the longest professional baseball game in history, 33 innings to be exact.
Laribee, a player for the Pawtucket Red Sox, actually drove in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning with a sacrifice fly. Had he not sent the game to extras, he would not be remembered, because he likely wouldn’t have batted again, or struck out again. Pawtucket would win the game 3–2 against the Rochester Red Wings (who had Cal Ripken Jr. playing third base, going 2-for-13).
The second occurrence of the Diamond Sombrero in a minor league game was by Stockton Ports right fielder Dusty Robinson in 2013. Robinson went 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in a 17-inning win against the Lake Elsinore Storm. The game featured Jace Peterson, Travis Jankowski, and Addison Russell. Pitcher Wade Kirkland, who entered the game via a double switch, and also pitched two innings, hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 17th. Gotta love the minors.
The Plutonium Sombrero
We’re finally here. The eight strikeout game. This just happened.
I went to Twitter and asked you guys to come up with a name for it, and it seems that the “DFA Sombrero” was a pretty common response, but I wanted to keep the trend of using expensive elements or metals. So here we are, with the Plutonium Sombrero.
His name is Khalil Lee, but he’ll forever be known for what he accomplished on the diamond on July 13, 2017. Lee, a shortstop for the Lexington Legends (Royals A), went 1-for-9 with EIGHT strikeouts (and a walk) in a 21-inning win against the Delmarva Shorebirds.
How is this possible? I’m not entirely sure. Yes, Lee is a high strikeout guy (109 strikeouts in 344 PA before the game), but a 31.7 K rate is only a tad higher than Wil Myers, Aaron Judge, and Cody Bellinger. Eight strikeouts is unfathomably horrible.
Here’s how it went down:
Strikeout swinging (T1)
Strikeout looking (T3)
Strikeout looking (T5)
Strikeout swinging (T9) GOLDEN SOMBRERO ACHIEVED
Strikeout swinging (T11) PLATINUM SOMBRERO ACHIEVED
Strikeout swinging (T14) TITANIUM SOMBRERO ACHIEVED
Strikeout looking (T16) DIAMOND SOMBRERO ACHIEVED
Strikeout swinging (T21) PLUTONIUM SOMBRERO INVENTED AND ACHIEVED
That’s what happened.
Khalil Lee’s name will forever be engraved in baseball history, whether he reaches MLB or not. We will never forget this legendary performance.
And remember, if you’re having a bad day, at least you (probably) didn’t strike out eight times in a MiLB game.
*all stats since 1913, and courtesy of Baseball-Reference