Catcher Bobby Estalella never exactly set the baseball world on fire in any long-term sense, drifting as a backup between six teams over nine seasons. But at the end of the 1997 season, he probably seemed like the second coming of Johnny Bench. He had hit two home runs with a .353 batting average in seven games as a Phil in 1996, and he picked up where he left off in 1997. On September 4th, playing the Expos in just his third game after getting called up, he knocked three home runs off a little-known scrub named Pedro Martinez, almost single-handedly powering the Phillies to a 6-4 victory.
"I've never hit three home runs before," Estalella remarked. "I've never done that at any level, Legion ball, high school [...] I've always wanted to hit
three, but I never thought I'd do it here. It's one of the best days
I've had in baseball, no doubt." Manager Terry Francona was suitably impressed. "It's not supposed to happen that way," related a stunned Tito. "I hit 16 homers in my career,
three was the most in any one year. He did it in an hour and a half."
Of course, it was mostly downhill from there for Mr. Estalella. Blocked at the catcher position by Mike Lieberthal, Estalella was never able to pull regular starter duty for the Phils, and the next season he batted a dismal .188, hitting a total of eight homers. In 1999 he was traded to the Giants for pitcher Chris Brock, and he never really stuck with any team before washing out in 2004, with a whopping 48 career round-trippers. Unfortunately for his legacy, Estalella was eventually linked to PEDs in the Mitchell Report, also signing on to testify against former teammate Barry Bonds in court hearings--casting a shadow on even his one day of pure triumph.