The Infamous Golden Sombrero

April 30, 2024

golden sombrero

The Award for Strikeouts

When a baseball player is having a rough day at the plate and just can’t hit the ball, they’re given this term for the result of their performance.

The award is called a golden sombrero, and it’s the term given to a player that has struck out four times in a single game. The term comes from hockey’s hat trick, the feat when a player scores three goals in a single game. A batter that strikes out three times is given just a sombrero, but when they do it four times, it becomes a golden sombrero. But the award doesn’t end there. When a player strikes out five times in a game, it is called a platinum sombrero (and was once also known as getting the “Olympic Rings), and when it is done a dreaded six times in a game, the player receives a titanium sombrero.

The origin of the term golden sombrero is widely accepted to have been coined by Carmelo Martinez of the San Diego Padres in 1984 and that the term first appeared in print the same year from a quote by Leon Durham of the Chicago Cubs. But further research shows that the term was described in the Clarion-Ledger in August 1979, so it appears it was circulating in baseball circles prior to 1984. The term was also found to be used by a baseball player before Leon Durham’s use of it in April 1984 in the Chicago Tribune. In August 1983, in the Detroit Free Press, John Wockenfuss of the Detroit Tigers described how he had already struck out three times and didn’t want to get a fourth and win the golden sombrero.

Ryan Howard is the player with the most golden sombreros to his credit in his career at 27. The most in a season were seven by Dick Allen in 1968. Sammy Sosa had the most platinum sombreros during his career at four, and eight different players have the honor of the titanium sombrero, striking out six times in a game. All the games these players were involved in went into extra innings, however.

Two players have even gone beyond the levels of the sombrero. In 1981, during the longest game ever played in professional baseball between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, Russ Laribee struck out seven times. The game did happen to be 33 innings and lasted eight and a half hours. Laribee was 0–11 with seven strikeouts.

But that isn’t the most strikeouts in a professional game. Khalil Lee of the Class A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals struck out eight times in a single game during a 21 inning contest in 2017. Lee went 1–9 in the batter’s box, but at least his team won the game. He has been the only player to get two golden sombreros in a single game.

Sources: Baseball Reference, Clarion Ledger, Detroit Free Press, Sportsnaut, The Stadium Reviews

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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