The Unusual Swing Of New York Giants Star Mel Ott
It’s hard to imagine in this era where everyone is recording everything, that there is very little film of the old time great players (pre-1950) actually playing.
Because of this when all-time, all-star lists are drawn up the players, modern ballplayers usually get picked over old-timers because there are few people alive who saw those old-timers play. There are exceptions like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and other greats who have superb stats or reputations that have carried into the 21st century. They get named to those all-time lists. But many of the early 20th century’s great players are mostly forgotten.
A case in point is Mel Ott, the slugger who played his entire career with the New York Giants from 1926 until 1947. Ott had 2,876 hits, 511 home runs, drove in 1860 runs and hit .304 in his 22 year career.
The left-handed hitting Ott had one of the strangest batting stances in baseball, lifting his right leg high in the air while the pitch was on the way to the plate.
In this rare sequence of photos from 1937 we see Ott connecting (click to enlarge)
Mel Ott Just Look At That Batting Form
New York – The magic eye takes a good look at Mel Ott, Giants star batter to see just how he does it, for the benefit of non-fans it might be mentioned that Mel leads the league in home runs and his consistent hitting, (20 consecutive games was his latest string), has helped the Giants spurt to the top of the league after a bad start. Ott is shown at the plate ready and willing to bound one into the upper tier stands.From left to right:
“I’m waiting!” – Mel is one of the few good hitters to raise one foot at the plate.
Back goes the bat. When Ott unwinds this backswing its….
Socko! Perfect timing and perfect contact. The ball starts its grandstand flight and
Ott follows through, much the same in form as a golfer, after which Ott starts out his dash around the bases.
credit: International News photos
Ott’s hitting would help bring the Giants to the 1937 World Series, but they were defeated for the second consecutive year by the Yankees. Mel Ott was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951. Ott died in 1958 due to injuries he received in a car crash. He was just 49.
Didn’t that great Japanese ballplayer, Sadaharu Oh, lift his leading leg too? I have vague memories of him almost falling into each pitch.
Yes. Sadaharu Oh did lift his leg in the same manner. Good memory.