- 1B, LF, OF, RF
- October 14, 1941
- 6' 1"
- 168 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-17-1965 with CIN
Shamsky tied a major league record by homering in four consecutive at-bats for the Reds on August 12 and 14 of 1966. He finished the year with 21 HR in only 96 games. He became a favorite of Jewish fans in New York after his 1967 trade to the Mets and his .300 performance as a fourth outfielder and lefthanded pinch hitter for the beloved 1969 World Champions. His seven hits led all batters in the 1969 LCS. Nagging back problems hastened Shamsky's departure from the game in 1972.
Shamsky is Jewish and was born in St. Louis. He attended University City High School in St. Louis and played on the school's baseball team as did fellow major leaguer and Israel Baseball League managerKen Holtzman four years later. After playing ball for the University of Missouri in 1958-59, he was signed by Cincinnati as a free agent in 1959.
Minor league career
Shamsky began his professional baseball career as an 18-year-old with the 1960 Geneva Redlegs, and homered in his first at-bat. A roommate of Pete Rose that year, he hit .271 and slugged .480. His 18 homers were second in the league, well ahead of Tony Perez and Dick Allen. Shamsky led the league's outfielders in assists, and made the All-Star team.
He moved up to the Topeka Reds in 1961 and hit .288, slugging .469 with 15 home runs.
In 1962, he was with the Macon Peaches. Shamsky played with Pete Rose, Lee May, Darron Johnson, and Mel Queen on the Peaches.
By 1963, Shamsky made it up to the AAA level with the minor league San Diego Padres and hit .267 with 18 home runs. Repeating with San Diego the next year, he batted .272 and hit 25 home runs to finish 8th in the Pacific Coast League in that category and second on the Padres behind Perez's 34.
Major league career
Cincinnati Reds (1965–67)
In 1965, Shamsky made the Cincinnati Reds out of spring training as a sub and hit .260.
Shamsky tied a major league record by homering in 4 consecutive at bats for the Reds on August 12 and 14 of 1966. Perhaps most remarkable, the first three home runs were hit in a game in which he was inserted in the eighth inning as part of a double switch. He homered in the bottom half of that inning and remained in the game to hit home runs in his next two extra-inning at bats, extending the game each time. The feat made Shamsky the first player in Reds history to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game. He is also the only player in Major League history to hit three home runs in a game who was not in thestarting lineup when the game began. The fourth home run was hit as a pinch hitter in the next game. The bat that he used is on display in Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He finished the year with 21 HR (2nd on the team) and 47 RBIs, and a .521 slugging percentage, in only 234 at-bats.
New York Mets (1968–71)
Shamsky was traded to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson before the 1968 season. Originally he was unhappy with being traded to the Mets, as New York City "was really big. It was kind of intimidating." Eventually he "fell in love with the energy, got to know the city a bit. My life changed." He became a favorite of Jewish fans in New York.
In 1969 Shamsky hit .300, with a .375 on base percentage, as half of a right field platoon with Ron Swoboda for the World Champion Mets. Shamsky was the regular starter against right-handed pitchers, with Swoboda starting against lefties. He batted .385 as a pinch hitter, and .388 in games that were late and close. People still approach him to share their memories about his decision not to play on Yom Kippur in 1969. “The funny thing was, the Mets won both ends of a double header” that day, he cracked.
Shamsky's torrid hitting continued into the post-season. He started all three games of the NLCS, where he batted .538, leading all batters. In the World Series, Shamsky started only in Game 3, which was played on his 28th birthday.
In 1970 he hit .293 with a .371 on base percentage. Despite only 402 at bats, he was 7th in the league with 13 intentional walks.
Chicago Cubs & Oakland A's (1972)
He remained with the Mets until 1972, when he played 22 games for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A's. Nagging back problems hastened Shamsky's departure from the game in 1972. Shamsky retired after 13 years in pro baseball, with 68 homers and a World Series ring.
Halls of Fame
Shamsky is a member of the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
Shamsky was the Manager of the Modi'in Miracle in the 2007 first season of the Israel Baseball League. Shamsky faced Ken Holtzman as opposing managers for the first all star game of the Israel Baseball League. The Miracle finished the inaugural 2007 season 22–19 (.537), in third place, and after upsetting the # 2 Tel Aviv Lightning in the semi-finals, lost to the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox 3–0 in the championship game. The Israel Baseball League did not resume play after 2007.
After his baseball career, Shamsky became a real estate consultant with First Realty Reserve and a sports radio and television broadcaster for WFAN, WNYW television, ESPN television, WNEW television Channel 5 in New York City, as well as a play-by-play and color commentator for the New York Mets on radio and television. In addition, he hosted a talk show on WFAN Sports Radio, and has written featured guest editorials for the sports section of The New York Times.
He also owns a New York restaurant, "Legends."
He has also written a book, “The Magnificent Seasons: How the Jets, Mets, and Knicks Made Sports History and Uplifted a City and the Country,” with Barry Zeman (Thomas Dunne Books). The book is about the New York Jets, New York Mets, and New York Knicks all winning championships for the first time in 1969 and 1970. He appeared as himself in a 1999 episode of Everybody Loves Raymond along with several other members of the 1969 Mets.
As of 2007, he was embroiled in a divorce from his second wife, Kim Shamsky, whom he had married in 1994 in Saint John in the Virgin Islands.
He now runs Bravo Properties in South Orange, New Jersey.
In the American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and Robert's childhood bulldog was named Shamsky Number 1, after the player. As an adult, Robert named his new bulldog Shamsky Number 2. Shamsky made an appearance in this series as himself ('Big Shots' – Series 3, Episode 19).
Comedian Jon Stewart named one of his pit bulls Shamsky, after the player.
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