That is the question. It’s never been done, either at the new Yankee Stadium or the old ballpark — The House that Ruth Built — right across the street.
Seems like a super human feat. Mission impossible. Perhaps, but after Yankees’ phenom Aaron Judge cleared the left-center field bleachers with a 495-foot home run, it seems like a legitimate question.
Judge’s latest moonshot blast certainly opened some eyes. Consider that his home run would have landed in the corridor in front the Yankees retired numbers, under the Bank of America sign, if not deflected by a fan. Now look to the left of that spot, perhaps 25-30 feet, near the flagpoles. Notice the alley. Under ideal circumstances, with the wind blowing out, who’s to say Judge couldn’t clear that back wall. Not impossible.
There have been some monster shots in the new Stadium, but none as monstrous as the one Judge hit. Alex Rodriguez hit several bombs deep into the bleachers, and Philly’s Raul Ibanez and Cleveland’s Russell Branyan hit titanic shots.
But judging by the results, Aaron Judge has the best chance to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium
Original Yankee Stadium Blasts
Nearly 16 years ago, July 22, 2001, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams hit a ball that left the old Stadium, over the old Yankee bullpen in right field and onto the elevated tracks of the 4 line.But that was in batting practice.
I was at the ballpark with my family that day, a hot summer Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on the third base side, box seats. My son Dan, a teen-ager at the time, swears he saw the ball go out
“I saw it,” he said. “It went out in that little gap, over the wall and right onto the railroad tracks. “People noticed it, they were clapping. You didn’t believe me.”
Well, it was hard to believe.
“I didn’t see it,” Williams told the New York Post. “But I noticed that it never came back, so that should have been some indication it was out. Batting practice is a great relief and release of tension for me. I’ve had a lot of tension this year, so it’s kind of like hitting a punching bag. I always try to hit the ball hard, but that’s as hard as I’ve ever hit one. That’s a long way.”
It’s a feat that no Yankee slugger had ever accomplished before — not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Reggie Jackson.
Twice, Mantle came within several feet of hitting one out of Yankee Stadium, off Pete Ramos of the Washington Senators on Memorial Day, 1956, right, and against Bill Fischer of the Kansas City A’s on May 22, 1963. Both times the ball was still rising when it struck the façade in right field. Mantle later said the 1963 HR was the hardest ball he ever hit.
Josh Gibson and Frank Howard, among others, were reputed to have gone out of the Stadium, though neither has ever been proven.
Gibson, the great Negro League catcher, is said to have hit several moonshots in the his day, including a ball that traveled 580 feet in the 1930s.
Babe Ruth may have hit some balls out of the original Yankee Stadium before the upper deck in right field was built, but none have ever been documented. The upper deck in right was extended in 1937.
But Bernie Williams did it for real….even if it was BP. He even hit a home run in the game, a solo shot in the first inning, to help lift the Yankees to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bernie finished his career with 287 home runs, 22 more in the playoffs. And one that didn’t count but went out of Yankee Stadium
Bernie goes Boom!
Graig Nettles and Goose Gossage (54) celebrate playoff win over Red Sox in 1978 at Fenway.
I’ve been watching Yankee baseball since I was a kid. My earliest memories go back to the 1957 World Series, when the Yankees lost to the Milwaukee Braves in seven games.
I always wanted to pull together a 25-man team of my favorite Yankees. Not necessarily the best, but the Yankees I liked the most.
You’ll note Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio are missing; that’s because I never saw them play. And there are no current Yankees on this team, they’re for future consideration.
Here are the starters and reserve, including seven starting pitchers and three relievers.
C – Yogi Berra – Got rings? Yogi has 10, most of any player in history.
1B – Don Mattingly – Hit a record 6 grand slams in 1987, the only grand slams of his career.
2B – Willie Randolph – Quiet leader, member of the 1977 and 1978 World Champions.
3B – Graig Nettles – His play at the hot corner was a turning point in the 1978 World Series.
SS – Derek Jeter – The Captain is #6 on the all-time hit list with 3465.
OF – Mickey Mantle – The switch-hitter, #7, hit some of the longest HRs in MLB history.
OF – Bernie Williams – Another in a long line of great Yankee center fielders.
OF – Bobby Murcer – He wasn’t the next Mantle, but he was damn good.
P – Whitey Ford – All-time Yankee leader with 236 wins and a .690 wining percentage.
P – Mel Stottlemyre – Arrived at the end of a dynasty, had 40 career shutouts.
P – Ron Guidry – Enjoyed one of the great seasons ever in 1978, 25-3 with a 1.78 ERA.
P – David Cone – Helped put the Yankees over the top in 1996, was perfect in 1999.
P – Andy Pettitte – Clutch lefty, his 19 post-season wins are the most by any pitcher.
RP – Mariano Rivera – Simply the greatest closer in history with 652 saves.
RP – Goose Gossage – Fearsome bullpen presence, saw his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
C – Thurman Munson – Hit safely in 28 of 30 post-season games, died in a plane crash in 1979.
1B – Bill Skowron – The Moose hit a home run in my first game at Yankee Stadium
IF – Bobby Richardson – Only World Series MVP on a losing team, 1960 vs. Pittsburgh.
IF – Gil McDougald – Utility man, Rookie of the Year in 1951, later coached baseball at Fordham.
OF – Roger Maris – Still holds the American League single season HR record with 61 in 1961.
OF – Reggie Jackson – Mr. October, hit three HRs vs Dodgers in 1977 World Series clincher.
OF – Paul O’Neill – The Warrior, a mainstay of Yankee championship teams in 1996, 199-2000.
P – Jim “Catfish” Hunter – George’s first big free agent signing, won 23 games in 1975.
P – David Wells – Saw him pitch a perfect game in 1998 against the Twins.
RP – Sparky Lyle – Stolen from the Red Sox, provided pomp and circumstance out of the bullpen.
1B Chris Chambliss; 3B Clete Boyer; OF Lou Piniella; OF Roy White; P Orlando Hernandez; P Jim Bouton
of Take a look, give a listen to the 20 greatest home runs in Yankee history. Many are on this list of 100 greatest home runs in baseball history.
Any list of greatest home runs would be incomplete without the immortal Babe Ruth.
Ancient footage played to the music of Queen’s “We are the Champions,” the Bambino makes his mark and challenges all comers to match it. “60. Count em 60,” roared the Babe. “Let’s see some other son of a bitch match that.”
The legendary called shot at Wrigley Field, with motion picture footage that shows Ruth pointing. But where?
3. 1932, Lou Gehrig, 4 HRs, single game
Close as we could come to video with Larrupin’ Lou is this photo. But you get the point, it was a long time ago. And four in one game — not even the great Ruth ever did that.
Great radio call, Joe D goes “high and far over the fence in deep left field” at Wrigley Field to bury the Cubs in another Yankee sweep.
Mantle, just 20 years old, goes deep on a 3-1 pitch off Joe Black in the sixth inning at Ebbets Field to give the Yankees the lead for good on their way to their fourth straight World Series. Mel Allen with the play-by-play in the sixth – “that ball is going, going…it is gone.” Watch how fast Mantle gets around the bases.
6. 1956, Yogi Berra, 2 HRs, Game 7, World Series
A signature moment for the Yankee catcher, who belted two early two- run homers against Don Newcombe to help the Yankees avenge their loss to Brooklyn the previous year in a 9-0 whitewash. Elston Howard also homered, and Bill Skowron hit a grand slam.
One of the great Phil Rizzuto calls (“Holy cow, he did it, 61 for Maris.”). At one point the camera catches Sal Durante, the fan who got $5,000 for coming up with the ball. Lots going on in this brief cut: fans booing Boston’s Tracy Stallard for going to a 2-0 count against Maris, a young fan running on the field to shake the Rajah’s hand, and Maris being pushed out for a curtain call by his teammates.
The Mick talks about the hardest ball he ever hit, which missed by less than a foot of clearing the right field facade of Yankee Stadium. No player has ever hit a fair ball out of the Stadium old or new — Mantle came the closest.
Watch the gimpy-legged Mantle struggle around the bases after lining his milestone round tripper into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium. Jerry Coleman with the call. Again, kids on the field.
Chambliss helps the Yankees win their first AL pennant in 12 years. Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell with the call. Talk about security in the Bronx — fans storm the field as Chambliss barely makes it around the bases.
Mr. October earns his stripes with an unforgettable performance that matches the heroics of one George Herman Ruth.
” Deep to left. Yastrzemski will not get it. It’s a home run. A three-run homer for Bucky Dent.” Bill White with the call on the blast that brought Yaz to his knees and silenced Fenway Park.
Donnie Baseball ties Dale Long’s record by homering in his eighth consecutive game.
Jeter, a rookie, shares the spotlight with 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier, who gives the Yankees a boost on this controversial eighth inning call that tied the score and made Bob Costas ask “And what happens here?”
Same game as Jeter’s home run, the winning blow by Williams came in the bottom of the 11th. You may have to turn up the volume to hear it — but John Sterling gives a landmark Yankees win call as Bernie goes boom.
With Atlanta on the verge of taking a 3-1 lead in the World Series, Leyritz launches a game-tying, three-run homer to left to tie the game in the eighth. Watch the reaction on the Yankee bench, especially Don Zimmer.
Less than two months after 9/11, two outs in the ninth, game on the line, Martinez homers to tie the score. Derek Jeter’s walk-off wins it in the 10th. And the next night…..
….it happened again. One night after Tino’s shocker, Brosius goes yard with two down in the ninth to tie the score. This time the Yankees win in 12. Joe Buck with the dual calls.
With the score tied in the last of the 11th, Boone hits the first pitch from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield into the left field seats to send the Yankees to the World Series. Look closely in the background. As Boone is rounding the bases, Mariano Rivera is hugging the mound.
This dramatic 14th inning walk-off in the rain gave birth to John Sterling’s Giambino.
YouTubeism baby. A millenial generation shot of A-Rod’s two-run blast that broke a scoreless tie with the Red Sox.
To be kind, this season has been a struggle for the New York Yankees. An aging team beset with injuries to regulars, an abysmal offense, and the never-ending Alex Rodriguez drama, latest chapter A-Rat, the Yankees are enduring their worst season in more than 20 years.
It’s not the first time. Despite their long and glorious history, the Yankees have had bad years in the past. Four times since the New York Highlanders began play in 1903, the Yankees have finished in last place — 1908, 1912, 1996 and 1990. And on other occasions the Yankees failed to live up to expectations.
Where does the 2013 team rank on the ignominious list of worst Yankee teams in history. Well the season’s not finished yet, so we shall see.
Meantime, here are the 10 worst teams in Yankee history.
1. 1966 — 70-89, last of 10 in American League
After winning 14 pennants and nine World Series from 1949-64, the Yankee dynasty crumbled…quickly. Just two years after a seventh-game loss to St. Louis, the once mighty Bronx Bombers finished last for the first time since 1912. After a 4-16 start, manager Johnny Keane was replaced by former skipper Ralph Houk. The change was cosmetic — after a brief spurt the Yankees floundered the rest of the way. The low point occurred on September 25 when 413 fans — the smallest crowd in Yankee Stadium history — turned up for a loss to the White Sox. Legendary broadcaster Red Barber was fired after asking WPIX cameras to pan the empty seats, see above. One consolation — the Yanks .440 winning percentage was the highest for a last-place team in MLB history.
2. 1912 — 50-112, last of 8 in American League
Statistically at least, this is was the worst team in Yankee history. The club, then known as the Highlanders, finished with a .329 percentage, the lowest ever by a New York American League entry and 55 games behind the World Champion Boston Red Sox. The 1912 team set records for most errors (.386) and lowest fielding average (.939) in club history. Russell Ford led the AL with 21 losses, and Jack Warhop has 19. Guy Zinn hit 6 home runs to lead the team. The Highlanders stole home 18 times that year, at the time a record. Mercifully, manager Harry Wolverton, pictured right, was dismissed after one year at the helm.
3. 1925 — 69-85, 7th of 8 in American League
After finishing in the first division for eight straight years and winning three American League pennants and their first World Series in that span, the Yankees dropped like a stone in 1925, finishing 28 1/2 games behind the Washington Senators. Only the hapless Red Sox were worse. Hard to believe a team with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig could be so bad. Ruth suffered a serious stomach illness in the spring (due to excessive indulgences), played in just 98 games and hit just .290 with 25 HRs and 66 RBIs. It was his worst season in pinstripes. Gehrig a relative newcomer, contributed 20 homers, 68 RBIs. and a .295 average in 126 games. The Yankees recovered quickly, winning the AL pennant in 1926 and the World Series in 1927 and 1928 in four-game sweeps.
4. 1990 — 67-95, last of 7 in American League East
In 1990, the New York Yankees finished dead last in the American League East, were outspent by the Kansas City Royals and outdrawn by the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to baseballreference.com. They managed to fall a game and a half out of first place before they even played a game. Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hitter and lost 4-0. Third baseman Mike Blowers made four errors in a single game. The team’s high-profile, off-season free agent acquisition, pitcher Pascual Perez, pitched just 14 innings all year. “There was a lot of chaos,” said Bucky Dent, who managed the end of the 1989 season and had been promised a chance to manage a full season in 1990 by owner George Steinbrenner. He was fired in June, replaced by Stump Merrill.
5. 1959 — 79-75, 3rd of 8 in American League
Although they wound up in third place, the 1959 Yankees were never in the running and finished 15 games behind the Go-Go Chicago White Sox. It was a puzzling campaign for the Bombers who won their fourth straight pennant and then overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves in the World Series the previous October. They never got out of the starting gate in 1959 and fell into last place on May 20 for the first time since 1940. The 1959 Yankees lacked power and speed, although Mickey Mantle did hit 31 home runs and stole 21 bases. The Mick is seen above tossing his batting helmet in frustration.
6. 1908 — 51-103, last of 8 in American League
The 1908 Highlanders were outscored by more than 250 runs –713 to 460. Managed by Clark Griffith and then Kid Elberfeld, they suffered 103 losses to finish in the basement for the first time in their history. The Highlanders lost nine games by a 1-0 scored, including five by Jack Warhop, at the time an American League record. Only the 1912 Yankees had a worse winning percentage than the 1908 Highlanders at .331.
7. 1982 — 79-83, 5th of 7 in American League East
After blowing a 2-0 lead and losing to the Dodgers in six games in the 1981 World Series, the Yankees retooled with scant success. The season started badly when a huge blizzard wiped out Opening Day and several games beyond that. Following five playoff appearances, four AL pennants and two World Championships in the previous six seasons, the Yankees played under .500 ball and fell to fifth place, They would not reach the playoffs for another 13 seasons. Three different managers — none of whom named Billy Martin — piloted the team. For the record, they were Bob Lemon, Gene Michael and Clyde King.
8. 1965 — 77-85, 6th of 10 in American League
And thus began the decline and fall of the Yankee empire. Between 1949 and 1964, the Yankees failed to win the AL pennant just two times — in 1954 and 1959. But by 1965, key players such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, were beset by age and injury. Yankee Stadium attendance was the lowest since 1945, while Casey Stengel and the Mets were drawing big crowds at Shea Stadium. Johnny Keane, who led the Cardinals to a seven-game World Series win over Yogi Berra’s Yankees in 1964, was manager of this underachieving group. One bright spot — Whitey Ford beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park on the final day of the season to become the Yanks all-time leader in wins.
9.. 1913 67-94, 7th of 8 in American League
Officially known as the Yankees for the first time, the Yankees abandoned Hilltop Park and moved into the Polo Grounds as tenants of the Giants. Before the season even started the Yankees held spring training in Bermuda — the first MLB team to train outside the USA. Future Hall of Famer Frank Chance became manager, but the club climbed just one position to seventh, leaving John McGraw and the Giants as clear-cut favorites in New York. The Yankees endured a 13-game losing streak, longest in their history and permitted 32 passed balls, a club record.
10. 1945 — 81-71, 4th of 8 in American League
In the final year of World War II, the Yankees finished fourth, their worst finish in 20 years. Manager Joe McCarthy, upset by his team’s performance, was occasionally ill during the season and was unable to manage, being replaced by his trusted aide Art Fletcher. Despite the fourth place finish, the Yankees led the AL in home runs with 93. Snuffy Stirnweiss led the league in seven categories, including runs (107), stolen bases (33) and batting average, a pedestrian .309. Nick Etten led the AL in RBIs with 111.
Detroit Tiger third baseman Miguel Carbrera, above, is trying to do something no ballplayer has done in 45 years — win a Triple Crown. The last Triple Crown winner was Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski, who led the American League in all three major batting categories in 1967.
If Cabrera wins out, he will become the just the second Tiger in history to win a Triple Crown, joining all-time batting leader Ty Cobb, who won the honors in 1909.
Here are 10 things you may not know about the MLB Triple Crown.
There have been 17 Triple Crowns in baseball history, with 15 different players winning the honor.
The American League has seen nine Triple Crowns and the National League seven. Canadian Tip O’Neill of the St. Louis Browns was the only player from the American Association to win a Triple Crown, way back in 1887.
Rogers Hornsby (1922 and 1925) and Ted Williams (1942 and 1947), shown right, are the only two-time Triple Crown winners.
Paul Hines of the Providence Grays was the first Triple Crown winner, taking National League honors in 1878.
The highest batting average for a Triple Crown winner was Hugh Duffy of the Boston Braves, who hit .438 in 1894, still MLB’s single season record. Nap Lajoie of Philadelphia led the American League with a .426 average for the Philadelphia A’s in 1901.
National League Triple Crown winner Rogers Hornsby hit .401 in 1922 and .403 in 1925 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The most HRs in a Triple Crown season — 52 hit by Yankee switch-hitter Mickey Mantle in 1956
The Yankees’ Lou Gehrig knocked in 165 runs in 1934, most ever for a Triple Crown winner. Jimmie Foxx had 163 for the Philadelphia A’s in 1933.
The last National Leaguer to win Triple Crown was Joe “Ducky” Medwick, way back in 1937, some 75 years ago.
The only Triple Crown winners not elected to the Hall of Fame were the first two winners — Paul Hines and Tip O’Neill — and Heinie Zimmerman of the 1912 Cubs.
Triple Crown Winners
YEAR PLAYER HR RBI AVG
1967 Carl Yastrzemski, Boston 44 121 .326
1966 Frank Robinson, Baltimore 49 122 .316
1956 Mickey Mantle, New York 52 130 .353
1947 Ted Williams, Boston 32 114 .343
1942 Ted Williams, Boston 36 137 .356
1934 Lou Gehrig, New York 49 165 .363
1933 Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia 48 163 .356
1909 Ty Cobb, Detroit 9 115 .377
1901 Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia 14 125 .422
YEAR PLAYER HR RBI AVG
1937 Joe Medwick, St. Louis 31 154 .374
1933 Chuck Klein, Philadelphia 28 120 .368
1925 Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis 39 143 .403
1922 Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis 42 152 .401
1912 Heinie Zimmerman, Chicago 14 103 .372
1894 Hugh Duffy, Boston 18 145 .438 1878 Paul Hines, Providence 4 50 .358
YEAR PLAYER HR RBI AVG
1887 Tip O’Neill 44 121 .326
Catcher Jorge Posada played his entire career with the Yankees.
Sometime soon, Jorge Posada will announce his retirement, a Yankee catcher for life.
There’s something to be said for playing an entire career with one team. Players like Ted Williams of the Red Sox, Stan Musial of the Cardinals, and Cal Ripken of the Orioles have done just that and become the faces of their franchises.
Posada caught 1,574 games with the Yankees, third behind only Hall of Fame catchers Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.
Few realize that Berra did not play his entire career with the Yankees. Early in 1965, a season after being fired as Yankee manager, Yogi started two games as catcher and pinch-hit twice for the Mets, getting two hits in nine at bats before becoming a full-time coach.
Berra is one of many legendary Yankee stars who played for other teams. Babe Ruth began his career as a pitcher with the Red Sox of course, and returned to Boston to play his final season with the Braves. Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon and Charlie Keller all played for other teams.
Andy Pettitte spent three years with the Houston Astros. Lefty Gomex went 0-1 with the Washington Senators in 1943. Red Ruffing, like Ruth, started out as a Red Sox pitcher. Reliever Joe Page came out of retirement to pitch for the 1954 Pirates.
But there is a core contingent of players throughout the years who spent their entire careers in pinstripes. Here they are, the all-time, all-the-time Yankees:
C — Bill Dickey — .313 career hitter with high of .362 in 1936, 202 home runs, 100 RBIs four straight years, beginning in 1936. (1928-46)
1B — Lou Gehrig — The Iron Horse, 2,130 consecutive games, 493 home run, .340 lifetime batting average. Captain, two-time MVP, 1934 Triple Crown. (1923-39)
2B — Robinson Cano — Seven years with Yankees, hit .300 or better five times, including career-high .342 in 2006. (2005-Present)
SS — Derek Jeter — First Yankee to accumulate 3,000 hits, .313 lifetime hitter, 240 home runs, 339 stolen bases. Rookie of the Year 1995, five Gold Gloves. (1995-Present)
3B — Red Rolfe — Batted .289 lifetime, led American League in runs, hits, doubles in 1939. (1931-42)
OF — Joe DiMaggio — The Yankee Clipper, right, 56-game hitting streak in 1941 is all-time mark. Hit .325 with 361 home runs. Three-time MVP (1936-51)
OF — Mickey Mantle — The Mick, 536 career home runs, .298 average. Three-time MVP, Triple Crown in 1956. (1951-68)
OF — Earle Combs — The Kentucky Colonel, .325 career hitter, led league in triples three times and hits once. (1924-35)
LHP — Whitey Ford — Yankees all-time winningest pitcher, 236 wins, .690 career win percentage highest for 200-game winner. MLB Cy Young winner 1961. (1950-67)
RHP — Spud Chandler — 109-43, including 20 wins in 1943 and 146. Won MVP in 1943. (1937-47)
Relief — Mariano Rivera — Became all-time saves leader last year with 603. Lowest ERA among active pitchers at 2.21. (1995-Present)
C — Jorge Posada — A .276 lifetime hitter with 275 career home runs. (1995-2011)
1B — Don Mattingly — Donnie Baseball, below,.307 career average, MVP in 1985. (1982-95)
2B — Bobby Richardson — Five-time Gold Glove winner, World Series MVP in 1960. (1955-66)
SS — Phil Rizzuto — The Scooter, 1950 MVP, long-time Yankee broadcaster. (1941-56)
3B — Gil McDougald — Utility infielder, Rookie of the Year in 1951. (1951-60)
OF — Bernie Williams — Batting champion in 1998, hit .297 lifetime. Four Gold Gloves. (1991-2006)
OF — Tommy Henrich — Old Reliable, batted .282 lifetime with 183 homers. (1937-50)
OF — Roy White — Batted .271 lifetime with 160 home runs, 233 stolen bases. (1965-79)
LHP — Ron Guidry — Louisiana Lightning, three-time 20-game winner, 170-91 lifetime, AL Cy Young in 1978. (1975-89)
RHP — Mel Stottlemyre — Won 20 games three times, 164-139 career mark. (1964-74)
Notes — Others who received major consideration include catcher Thurman Munson, shortstop Frankie Crosetti and outfielder George Selkirk….The Yankees have had some great relief pitchers through the years, but other than Rivera all wore other uniforms at one time. Wilcy Moore, Johnny Murphy, Joe Page, Luis Arroyo, Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage were among the top relievers.
Looking back in time through the eyes of a 10-year-old kid growing up a Yankee fan in New York, I have fond memories of the summer of 1961 and the great home run chase.
And this kid remembers July 25, 1961, 50 years later. That was the night the home run chase became real.
On 7/25/61, Roger Maris hit four home runs in a twi-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, two in each game, to become the fastest player to reach 40 home runs.
The fireworks began in the second inning when Maris hit a two-run shot off the right field foul pole off Chicago’s Frank Baumann to tie teammate Mickey Mantle for the home run lead with 37. Mantle immediately broke the tie with a home run off the left field foul pole for his 38th.
Mantle was done for the night, but Maris was just warming up. He hit another home run in the eighth inning of the opener against former Yankee Don Larsen, “the imperfect man who pitched the perfect game” and part of the trade that brought Maris to the Yankees prior to the 1960 season. The Bombers won 5-1 as Whitey Ford ran his record to 18-2 and Luis Arroyo recorded his 20th save.
In the nightcap, Maris, pictured below, hit a solo shot in the fourth and a three-run blast in the sixth, for his 39th and 40th home runs of the season. Elston Howard also homered in the second game and Clete Boyer homered twice as the Yanks won 12-0 behind the shutout pitching of Bill Stafford. The sweep edged the Yankees a half-game ahead of the Detroit Tigers.
25 Games Ahead of Babe’s Pace
“Roger is running away from Babe Ruth like a scared kid in a graveyard,” wrote Dick Young of the New York Daily News. “With 40 homers, Rogers is 25 games ahead of Ruth’s pace….Oh, Clete Boyer had two homers and now is only 80 games behind Ruth.”
Maris finished the day with four home runs and eight RBIs. Mantle would retake the home run lead in early August before Maris got hot again. Roger passed the Mick for good when he blasted his 46th home run of the year – against the White Sox — on August 15.
Mantle wound up with a career high 54 home runs that season, his body breaking down over the final weeks of the season. Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record of 60, set in 1927, with his 61st home run against the Boston Red Sox on the final day of the season.
Nearly 50 years later, Maris (162 games) and Ruth (154 games) continue to hold the American League single season record.
And if you discount the steroid-juiced and hyper-inflated home run marks of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris is still baseball’s all-time single season home run king.