Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

Roger Maris Hits His 59th Home Run September 20, 1961

55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth

roger-maris-hits-home-run-number-59-september-20-1961In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.

Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.

Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.

If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163)  than Ruth did.

The news caption for this photo reads:

Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s  official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)

It wasn’t until September 26 Continue reading

Rare Photograph Of Game 7 Of The 1926 World Series At Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium On Edge As Waite Hoyt Pitches To Cardinals Slugger Rogers Hornsby

And The Story of The Strangest End To A World Series

1926 World Series Waite Hoyt pitching to Rogers Hornsby gm 7It is October 10, 1926 and it seems everyone is wearing a hat at game seven of the 1926 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Although the stadium looks packed, rainy, gray and chilly weather kept the attendance for the deciding game down to 38,093.

In this rare photo, Yankee star pitcher Waite Hoyt is unleashing a pitch to the Cardinals Rogers Hornsby. The Yankees would lose this game 3-2 and the game would include one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history and one of, if not the strangest play to end a World Series.

The drama occurred when Cardinals starter Jess Haines had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and was lifted for the veteran pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Old Alex had pitched a complete game victory the day before and was tired, but relaxed as he came into the game to face Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri. The crowd fell silent as Alexander demonstrated his mastery and struck out Tony Lazzeri ending the threat. Continue reading

The Yankees Are Closing In On 10,000 Wins

The New York Yankees Are About To Become The First American League Team To Win 10,000 Games

Yankees Win - photo USA TodayYou can love ’em or hate them, but the record speaks for itself. While seven National League franchises have attained 10,000 career wins, the New York Yankees will reach that mark sometime in September, becoming the first American League team to do so. They currently have 9,971 wins. (All statistics as of August 2, 2015.)

No other American League team is close to hitting this number. It will probably take another eight or nine years for another A.L. team to get there because the Boston Red Sox are second in A.L. career victories with 9,193.

Following Boston, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers are neck and neck with 9,064 and 9,061 wins respectively.

Bear in mind that some of National League teams have been around since 1876 so N.L. teams had a bit of a head start in reaching 10,000 wins. There is also futility for some teams. Realize the Philadelphia Phillies who came into existence in 1883 have still not won 10,000 games (total wins  9,505).

The franchise with the most wins all-time are the San Francisco Giants, Continue reading

This Is The Last Known Photograph Of Babe Ruth

A Dying Babe Ruth In Memorial Hospital July 29, 1948

Last Photo of Babe Ruth in hospital  July 29 1948New York – Babe’s Most Recent Picture – This picture, taken at Memorial Hospital here July 29, is believed to be the last picture of the baseball idol. It was made just before the Babe’s most recent relapse. With him is Steve Broidy of Allied Artists movie studio, who is presenting Ruth with a check for the Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children. The homerun king’s condition today was critical.  photo – AP, August 11, 1948

Babe Ruth June 13, 1948 in Yankee locker room

Babe Ruth June 13, 1948 in Yankee locker room

On June 13, 1948 just six weeks prior to the above photograph being taken, Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium and put on his old uniform for the last time as his number three was retired by the Yankees. After the ceremony the uniform would be shipped off to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The day was hailed as Silver Anniversary Day at Yankee Stadium officially marking the 25th anniversary of “The House That Ruth Built.” Sixteen members of the 1923 Yankees came to the ceremony and even participated in a two inning old-timers game against a team of Yankee all-stars from other years.   But everyone was there to see the man himself, Babe Ruth.

Friends and old teammates lined up and approached Babe before the ceremony and he obligingly signed autographs for everyone. After others had spoken, Ruth emerged from the dugout to a huge ovation and made a short speech in a raspy voice telling the crowd how happy he was to be present, how proud he was to be the first man to have hit a home run at Yankee Stadium and how glad he was to be with his old friends again.

Babe Ruth, William Bendix and a studio executive on the set of The Babe Ruth Story

Babe Ruth, William Bendix and a studio executive on the set of The Babe Ruth Story

Returning to the story of our original photograph, the last one of Babe Ruth, the emaciated Babe was probably happy to receive a check for the film The Babe Ruth Story, based on his life . But he could not have been pleased with the film which starred William Bendix. Continue reading

The Strikeout: The Rise and Acceptance of Baseball’s Unproductive Out

Hitters Never Used To Strikeout Like This

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

We are not even at the end of June and yesterday I read that the Astros Chris Carter had struck out 102 times so far this season. Carter is batting .198 with 13 home runs. The Astros as a team have struck out 728 times.

Those statistics are appalling and yet no one in baseball circles talks about it. Had they been playing thirty or more years ago players like Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds and the recently retired Adam Dunn most likely would not have been on a major league roster. Hitting thirty or more home runs, and batting .220 or under and striking out around one third of your plate appearances would have insured that you would not be around the big leagues very long.

But those days are over. Apparently there is no shame in striking out consistently if you can hit a few homers. Many teams apparently covet these one dimensional players and give them big contracts if they can hit some dingers.

The 1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers from left to right Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen. They combined for 173 strikeouts.

1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers (l to r) Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg & Marv Owen. They combined for 173 of the team’s 453 strikeouts.

Contrast today’s strikeout numbers with baseball’s glory days and the statistics are startling. For instance, the 1935 Detroit Tigers hitters had 453 strikeouts in total.

Almost every starting player on the team had more walks than strikeouts.

Even the Tigers pitchers only struck out a combined 84 times in 549 plate appearances.

Tigers 1935 stats via baseball-reference.com Hank Greenberg led the team with 91 strikeouts, while hitting 36 home runs and driving in an astounding 168 runs. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .319 and struck out a total of only 15 times. Continue reading

New York Teams Spring Training Photos 1910’s, 20’s and 30’s

Old Photos Of New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants Getting Ready For The Season

New York baseball teams have been heading south for spring training for over 100 years.

Here are some photographs showing the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants during spring training from the teens until the thirties.

Yankees spring training St Petersburg March 5 1930The New York Yankees doing their running drills March 5, 1930 St. Petersburg, Fl

Brooklyn Dodgers spring training 1920sThe Brooklyn Dodgers at their spring training complex circa early 1920’s.

Carl Hubbell winding up in Havana Feb 20 1937New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell warming up in Havana Cuba Feb 20, 1937. Continue reading

Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Comedy Record -1927

A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse

Gehrig and Ruth at League Park Cleveland 1927 photo L Van OeyenRecently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.

In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.

So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about  the content and the date.

It’s a comedy skit (which is not very funny) advertised Continue reading

New Hampshire, A Frozen Lake, A Young Babe Ruth and His First Wife

Babe Ruth At Lake Winnipesaukee, NH – 1916

Babe Ruth and wife Helen Lake Winnipesaukee NH 1916 Hunt auctionsIn this rare photograph the dapper and relatively slender Babe Ruth stands on frozen Lake Winnipesaukee in his Red Sox warm-up jacket. With Babe is his first wife Helen Woodford who was just 16 when they married in 1914. While the Babe may not look very happy at least he does not look too cold.

Babe’s marriage never interfered in his womanizing. His appetite for women was Continue reading

The Stress of Hank Aaron Breaking Babe Ruth’s All-Time Home Run Record

Before Breaking Ruth’s Record, Hank Aaron Had So Many Death Threats, He Had A Security Team Appointed To Protect Him

Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron at Shea Stadium June 3, 1972 – the two true #1 and #3 career home run leaders

Forty years ago today, on April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron, under incredible duress, hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 home runs and is now second all-time on the career home run list to Barry Bonds. In my mind and many others, Aaron is still the legitimate home run champion due to Bonds strange physical transformation in which his body became gargantuan and slugged more and more home runs as he aged.

What Aaron had to endure with the constant death threats and pressure is poignantly told in an excellent article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale which is reproduced below.

Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He’s not ready to let them go.

He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.

“You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it,” one of them reads. “Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move.” Continue reading

Roger Maris Hits His 61st Home Run

October 1, 1961, A Home Run Record Is Set & Baseball Blows Its Big Moment

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

52 years ago today, on the last day of the regular season October 1, 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season off of the Red Sox hurler Tracy Stallard in the fourth inning. For those who were fortunate enough to be there, it was a great moment in baseball history.

Unlike many of today’s players who will take a curtain call without any prodding for driving in the go-ahead run, Maris had to literally be pushed out of the dugout to acknowledge the 23,154 cheering fans at Yankee Stadium.

So why were there only 23,154 fans to see Babe Ruth’s record eclipsed?

That has to do with former sportswriter and then baseball Commissioner, Ford Frick who was a great friend of Babe Ruth and his ghost-writer.

Frick had declared that an asterisk be placed next to any home run record set, if it was not accomplished in 154 games, which was the number of games Ruth played in 1927 when he set his home run mark at 60.

Legendary baseball owner Bill Veeck tells this scathing and hilarious story in his wonderful memoir, Veeck as in Wreck written with Ed Linn (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 1962.

Let us be fair. Ford Frick does not try to do the wrong thing. Given the choice between doing something right or something wrong, Frick will usually begin by doing as little as possible. It is only when he is pushed to the wall for a decision that he will always, with sure instinct, and unerring aim, make an unholy mess of things.

Suppose that, purely as an exercise, I had put the following baseball question to you at any time during the past twenty-five years.

Suppose, starts the question, that someone comes along to challenge Babe Ruth’s record- which is THE record the same way Mt. Everest is THE mountain. Continue reading