Cabrera was still the pitcher. I wanted a pitch up in the zone, up above the shins where I’d hit the last one. He threw me one, and I swung as hard as I could. But I foul-tipped it.
So I just waited for the next one. It was on the inner part of the plate, and this time I swung even harder.
The ball landed above the walkway in right-center. The farthest shot of the day. I was just trying so hard not to smile so I didn’t show up the Brewers, but the fans in Milwaukee gave me a standing ovation. Me, the guy who’d just been booed at home.
Green goes 6-for-6 that day with six runs, seven RBIs and a record 19 total bases. ESPN’s David Schoenfield later picks the performance as the greatest by a hitter in MLB history.
I hear that a lot: the greatest performance ever. It’s wonderful to hear. I could get very streaky. The first pitch I saw in the next game — in Arizona, against Curt Schilling — I hit for a home run. I ended up with two more hits that day. And the day after that, I had two more home runs and six RBIs. Later that year, I had four home runs in four at-bats across two games against the Angels. Crazy, crazy streaks. The point is: I think studying Zen and Eastern philosophies all those years, they allowed me to go deeper in the zone than other guys.
It made me a better player. It’s helped to make me a better person, not think about what you should or shouldn’t have done. Just take this moment in front of you. Focus on that.
Green played for five more years, retiring before the 2008 season, and at one point was one of four active players — the others being Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Sheffield — with 300 homers, 1,000 RBIs and 150 stolen bases. In 2011, he published a book about the game and his study of Eastern philosophy called “The Way of Baseball.” He lives in Southern California.