In 1934, it was called “a record that promises to endure for all time.”
From the New York Times article written on July 13, 1934:
A record that promises to endure for all time was attained on Navin Field today when Babe Ruth smashed his seven-hundredth home run in a lifetime career. It promises to live, first, because few players of history have enjoyed the longevity on the diamond of the immortal Bambino, and, second, because only two other players in the history of baseball have hit more than 300 home runs.
Of course, today, we stand with Ruth as third on the all time home run list and 54th on the games played list. The scientific developments that forever changed the game were unforeseen in the mid-30’s where 700 home runs seemed unattainable unless you were the Bambino. Imagine Ruth slugging in this era where something close to one-thousand bombs would be said to “endure for all time.”
When Babe Ruth was walloping home runs, escalating his total to previously unexplored heights, some of them that should have been celebrated were merely passed off as just another achievement of the Sultan of Swat. Nobody quite knew the importance of a home run such as number 600.
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.
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.
Attending college affords many opportunities for which I am beyond grateful. One of these opportunities presented by Towson University is an excellent library with online research databases for all subjects.
Possibly the best research database is ProQuest Historical Newspapers which, among other current newspapers, holds an archive of the New York Times dating as early as 1851.
As a result of my fascination with baseball and, more specifically, home runs, I decided to search the database for write-ups of historic New York blasts. Simply put, I hit the jackpot. I wish I could post the full articles and pictures, but I am fairly certain ProQuest does not allow reproductions.
The articles are interesting and definitely worth a share. Beginning with the earliest historic home run, I would like to share my findings.