This afternoon, at work, I was casually watching the live box score for the Reds-Mets game on Yahoo Sports. In the seventh inning, Rick Ankiel hit a run-scoring triple. That was amazing enough -- Ankiel only has 9 triples in his career. I happened to look at the box to see what else he had done that day, and found that he had also hit two doubles. Seven total bases in the game, without hitting a homer... hmm. That got me curious: what is the record for most total bases in a game without hitting a homer?
Through the miracle of Baseball References' s play index, I have the answer. 10 or more total bases in a game, without hitting a homer, has been done a total of 38 times. To my surprise, only two of them precede the modern era; Babe Ruth had 10 TB in a game in 1918, and Harry Hooper did the same in 1919. (It should be noted that Baseball Reference's database currently only goes back to 1916.) Hooper is also the only player who has achieved the feat twice; he did it again in a 1924 game. Both times, he reached 10 TB with two triples and two doubles in five official at-bats.
There are eight games on the list in which the player hit three triples. The first one was achieved by the Cardinals' Les Bell, on September 22, 1926, against the then-Brooklyn Robins (now the Dodgers). He hit three triples and a double for 11 total bases. (The Robins' starter, Jesse Barnes, was yanked after surrendering 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings.) The most recent such game, and the most recent on the list overall, was accomplished by then-Minnesota Twin Denard Span, on June 29, 2010, against the Tigers. He hit three triples and a single in four official AB for 10 total bases, and also walked. His WPA for the game was +0.419. Armando Galarraga was the Tigers starter who got roughed up, as the Twins won 11-4.
Nine times the feat has been accomplished by a batter who only hit one triple in the game, most recently by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Rennie Stennett on September 23, 1975, in a game against the Cubs. In that game, Stennett was 7-for-7 with one triple, two doubles, and four singles. The Pirates absolutely blew out the Cubs, 22-0, with Rick Reuschel having probably the worst start of his career, surrendering 8 runs and getting only one out. The really eye-catching entry in the list is Johnny Burnett's 11 total bases for the Cleveland Indians against the Philadelphia Athletics, on July 10, 1932. This turned out to be a heartbreaker for Cleveland as they lost, 18-17 in 18 innings, but Burnett put himself into the record books in a major way. He racked up those 11 total bases by going 9-for-11 with two doubles, seven singles, and no triples. He's the only player ever to reach 10 or more TB in a game without hitting any home runs or any triples. His nine hits in the game is the major league record by a good bit; no other AL hitter has ever exceeded six hits in a game of any length, and only two NL hitters have reached seven hits in a game.
However, the record holder is... if you thought it was someone like Ruth or Ted Williams, you're going to be disappointed. The record for most TB in a game without a homer is 12, set by... Chicago White Sox outfielder Lance Johnson, in a September 23, 1995 game against the Twins, in the Metrodome. In that game, Johnson was 6-for-6 with three triples and three singles. Amazingly, he only saw a total of 13 pitches! Were Twins pitchers throwing a lot of hanging breaking balls that day? The Sox won the game 14-4; Twins starter Jose Parra was the victim, surrendering 8 runs (7 earned) in 5.2 innings.
To finish the story... I was really hoping that today Ankiel would get one more opportunity to swing the bat to see if he could hit another triple and join the 10-TB-without-a-HR club. And sure enough, in the bottom of the 9th, with two out and one on, Ankiel's slot in the batting order came up. Alas... the Mets chose to pinch-hit for him. Had he been allowed to bat, and hit that triple, it would have added one more surprising stat to Ankiel's very unusual career.