The 1927 New York Yankees is much argued as the greatest team in baseball history. The team was dubbed “Murderer’s Row” because of the lethal abilities of their line-up which included Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, and, of course, Babe Ruth. The team won 110 games, losing only 44. A member from the 1927 Yankees lead the league in every important offensive category besides batting average (Detroit’s Harry Heilmann hit .398) and stolen bases (St. Louis’ George Sisler stole 27).
Among those categories was home runs, in which New York held the top three spots. In third, versatile, 5’11” infielder Tony Lazzeri hit 18. Second was the league’s Most Valuable Player, Lou Gehrig, who hit 47. And atop the leader board was Babe Ruth who set the all time record for home runs in a season with 60. The Yankees, as a team, hit 158 of the American League’s 439 home runs that year, accounting for just under 36% of the bombs.
On September 30th, 1927, Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season, breaking his own single-season record of 59.
The New York Times article published the next day entitled “Ruth Crashes 60th to Set New Record,” (The article also featured five subtitles: “Babe Makes It a Real Field Day by Accounting for All Runs in 4-2 Victory,” “1921 Mark of 59 Beaten,” “Fans Go Wild as Ruth Pounds Ball Into Stands With One On, Breaking 2-2 Tie,” “Connects Last Time Up,” “Zachary’s Offering Converted Into Epochal Smash, Which Old Fan Catches — Senators Then Subside”) detailed the record-breaking home run:
Babe Ruth scaled the hitherto unattained heights yesterday. Home run number 60, a terrific smash off of southpaw pitching of Zachary, nestled in the Babe’s favorite spot in the right field bleachers, and before the roar had ceased it was found that the drive not only had made home run record history but also was the winning margin in a 4 to 2 victory over the Senators. This was also the Yanks’ 100th triumph of the season. Their last league game of the year will be played today.
When the Babe stepped to the plate in that momentous eighth inning the score was deadlocked, Koenig was on third base, the result of a triple, one man was out and all was tense. It was the Babe’s fourth trip to the plate during the afternoon, a base on balls and two singles resulted on his other visits plateward.
Next, this unnamed author details the at bat in which Ruth hit his 60th home run:
The first Zachary offering was a fast one, which sailed over for a called strike. The next was high. The Babe took a vicious swing at the third pitched ball and the bat connected with a crash that was audible in all parts of the stand. It was not necessary to follow the course of the ball. The boys in the bleachers indicated the route of the record homer. It dropped about half way to the top. Boys, No. 60 was some homer, a fitting wallop to top the Babe’s record of 59 in 1921.
While the crowd cheered and the Yankee players roared their greetings the Babe made his triumphant, almost regal tour of the paths. He jogged around slowly, touched each bag firmly and carefully and when he imbedded his spikes in the rubber disk to record officially Homer 60 hats were tossed into the air, papers were torn up and tossed liberally and the spirit of celebration permeated the place.
The Babe’s stroll out to his position was the signal for a handkerchief salute in which all the bleacherites, to the last man, participated. Jovial Babe entered into the carnival spirit and punctuated his Ringly strides with a succession of snappy military salutes.
The amazingly detailed article makes one yearn to be in those bleachers — or even just in the stadium — to witness this history. I can only imagine standing, greeting Babe Ruth with a wave of my handkerchief, the 1927 version of a standing ovation, as he jogged to his position after breaking the single-season home run record. I have given many great players standing ovations for impressive feats. I applauded Mike Trout’s amazing catch at Oriole Park last season. I clapped for Josh Hamilton after hitting his fourth home run. But nothing can quite compare with saluting to Babe Ruth.
The ball, according to an advertisement by Truly Warner, a hat company located in New York, was caught by Joe Forner, “a dyed-in-the-wool Fan, who won the reward of $100 offered by Truly Warner for the ball that broke the World’s Home Run Record.” Today, when calculating inflation, the $100 paid to Forner would be equivalent of $1,329.41 – not nearly enough to buy a record breaking home run in this era.
Thankfully, YouTube has a video clip of the historic home run so it can be relived in the 21st century.
Next Home Run: Babe Ruth’s 500th
Previous Home Runs: