Cloninger in 1962.
|Born: August 13, 1940|
Cherryville, North Carolina
|Died: July 24, 2018 (aged 77)|
Denver, North Carolina
|June 15, 1961, for the Milwaukee Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 22, 1972, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Earned run average||4.07|
|Career highlights and awards|
Tony Lee Cloninger (August 13, 1940 - July 24, 2018) was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1961 through 1972 for the Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals.
A power pitcher, Cloninger compiled a career 113-97 record with 1,120 strikeouts and a 4.07 ERA in 1,767 innings pitched. He enjoyed his best year for the 1965 Braves, with career highs in wins (24), strikeouts (211), ERA (3.29), complete games (16), innings (279) and games started (40).
On July 3, 1966, in the Braves' 17-3 win over the Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Cloninger helped his team's cause with two grand slams and nine RBIs, both of which still stand as Braves franchise single-game bests. Cloninger became the first player in the National League, and remains the only pitcher, to hit two grand slams in the same game. Cloninger used a bat of teammate Denis Menke to hit both of those big home runs, and they stood as the only two grand slams of his major league career.
Cloninger finished his career pitching with Cincinnati and St. Louis. He was acquired along with Clay Carroll and Woody Woodward by the Reds from the Atlanta Braves for Milt Pappas, Bob Johnson and Ted Davidson on June 11, 1968.
In 2002, he became the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox, but was forced to step down in early 2003 when he underwent successful treatment for bladder cancer that had been diagnosed in spring training. In 2004, Cloninger became a player development consultant for the Red Sox, serving for almost 15 consecutive seasons until his death.
As Red Sox pitching coach, Cloninger was ejected from a game in 2002 against the Baltimore Orioles. After two batters were hit by pitches, fights broke out and benches cleared. At one point, Cloninger, age 61 at the time but not shying away from trouble, grabbed Orioles player Brook Fordyce in a headlock.