Mel Ott is often forgotten in baseball lure. Overshadowed by rivaled, cross-town Yankee slugger Babe Ruth, Ott also brought a heavy stick to the game that was still adjusting to the long ball. From 1929 to 1938, Ott swatted 323 home runs, an average of 32 per season. He finished his career with 511, 3rd all time behind only Ruth and Jimmie Foxx.
In a game against the Chicago Cubs on July 18th, 1927, Ott connected for his first career home run, a drive off of Hal Carlson in New York in the first game of a doubleheader.
An article in the New York Times by James R. Harrison entitled “Giants’ Even Break Pushes Cubs Down,” (subtitled “Defeat, 3-2, After 6-4 Victory Sends Chicago Into Second Place by One Point) mentions Ott’s home run, a classic inside-the-parker, but never details it as his first:
Mel Ott and Travis Jackson also banged four-baggers in this game …
Ott’s homer started the Giants off properly in the first game. Hack Wilson tried to make a shoe-string catch of the low liner but was hampered by the heavy going and the ball got past him to the fence.
There you have it: one of the best sluggers in baseball history did not even hit his first home run over the fence, rather just under the glove of a fellow Hall of Famer.
Also, Harrison had some great intentional, as well as unintentional, humor in his article detailing the double header. Speaking of New York Giants’ manager Joe McCarthy’s decision to play the game under protest because of an interference call on the basepaths that cost his team a run, Harrison wrote this dandy comparison that I am certain was much funnier in 1927:
Inasmuch as the play involved only an umpire’s judgment, McCarthy has much chance to win his protest as he has of becoming the next Ukranian Minister to the United States.
And as for the possibly-unintentional humor, Harrison very briefly described the end of the game and the Gabby Hartnett home run that put the Cubs on top in the top of the 9th inning:
Taylor, pinch-hitting for Fitzsimmons, popped a futile fly to Grimm. Reese rolled to Adams, killing Jackson at the plate, and the pudgy Wilson engulfed Lindstrom’s long fly. Very sad.
Then the Hartnett homer.
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