100 in 100: Montgomery County’s Tyrone Horne, first to hit for the home run cycle

The two-sport star at West Montgomery High played pro baseball for 13 years

Tyrone Horne never made the major leagues, but his home run cycle with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers has him immortalized in Cooperstown.

North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.

Montgomery County

Tyrone Horne

Anyone who has ever played baseball for a living has at least once in his career dreamed of being in the Hall of Fame.

Tyrone Horne is one of the few that has had that dream come true — though not in the traditional way.

A former two-sport star at West Montgomery High, Horne played 13 seasons of minor league baseball for seven organizations without ever getting to the major leagues. But on the night of July 27, 1998, he did something no one else had ever done. And hasn’t since.

Playing for the Arkansas Travelers, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit for the “home run cycle” in a 13-4 win against San Antonio. He had a two-run homer in the first, a grand slam in the second, a solo shot in the fifth and a three-run bomb in the sixth for a 10-RBI performance that earned him a small measure of immortality. The bat he used now has an honored place on display in Cooperstown, New York.

“That is the most cherished accomplishment I could ever have,” Horne said several years later. “I can take my kids to the Hall of Fame and show them that it had never been done before me.”

Horne, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was a 44th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos in 1989 and signed out of high school. But if not for an injury suffered during his senior year at West Montgomery, he might have gone on to play college football and pursued a career in the NFL instead.

He rushed for 1,382 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading the Warriors to an undefeated regular season. But late in a 19-0 win against rival East Montgomery, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back broke his ankle while trying to get into the end zone.

“If I had to do over again, I think I would have given college football a try instead of going to play baseball,” he said. “But after getting hurt, I was afraid I guess.”

Horne hit a respectable .285 with 135 homers and 630 RBIs before finishing out his career with a short stint in Korea. For whatever reason, only 67 of his 1,309 professional games came above Double-A. But he was the Texas League MVP in 1998, an accomplishment that helped earn him induction into that league’s Hall of Fame in 2007.