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Home run

From Academic Kids

For other uses of the phrase see Home run (disambiguation)


In baseball, a home run is a base hit in which the batter is able to circle all the bases, ending at home plate and scoring a run himself (along with a run for each runner who was already on base), with no errors on the play that results in the batter achieving extra bases.

Home runs are among the most popular aspects of baseball, and the biggest (and best-paid) stars are often the players who hit the most of them. It was once said that "Singles hitters drive Fords, and home run hitters drive Cadillacs." There is also a legend that Babe Ruth (a Democrat) was asked by a reporter about the fact that his salary was higher than that of (Republican) President Herbert Hoover. Ruth's response was, "How many home runs did he hit last year?"

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Barry Bonds
Photo:Agência Brasil
Contents

Types of home runs

In almost all cases nowadays, a home run involves hitting the ball over the outfield fence in fair territory. Very rarely, a batter can hit the ball in play and circle all the bases before the fielders can throw him out; this is called an inside-the-park home run, and typically requires that the batter be a quick runner and that the fielder misplay the ball in some way; or that the ball is made difficult to play by caroming in unexpected ways or by becoming difficult for a fielder to reach due to structural variances and peculiarities of different ballparks. If the misplay is labeled an error by the official scorer, however, the batter is not credited with a home run.

Grand Slam

A grand slam home run occurs when the bases are "loaded" (that is, there are baserunners standing at first, second, and third base) and the batter hits a home run. An inside-the-park grand slam is the combination of the two, but it requires such a confluence of circumstances that it is very rare. In the last 50 years, only 3 players have hit an inside-the-park grand slam; the last one was hit by Randy Winn of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on October 3, 1999.

History of the home run

In the early days of the game, when the ball was less lively and the ballparks generally had very large outfields, most home runs were of the inside-the-park variety. The "home" run was literally descriptive. Home runs over the fence were rare, and only in ballparks where a fence was fairly close.

The home run's place in baseball changed dramatically when the lively ball was introduced after World War I. Batters such as Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby took full advantage of it during the 1920s, especially as the game's popularity boomed and more outfield seating was built, shrinking the size of the outfield. The teams with the sluggers, especially the New York Yankees, became the championship teams, and other teams had to change their focus from the "inside game" to the "power game" in order to keep up.

Prior to 1931, a ball that bounced over an outfield fence during a Major League Baseball game was considered a home run. The rule was changed to require the ball to clear the fence on the fly, and balls which reached the seats on a bounce became ground-rule doubles in most parks.

Also, until around that time, the ball had to not only go over the fence fair, but to land in the bleachers fair. The rule stipulated "when last seen" by the umpires. Photos from that era in ballparks such as the Polo Grounds show ropes strung from the foul poles to the back of the bleachers, in a straight line with the foul line, as a visual aid for the umpires. Babe Ruth's 60th home run in 1927 was somewhat controversial, because it landed just fair in the stands down the right field line.

Further, the rules once stipulated that an over-the-fence home run in a sudden-victory situation would only count for as many bases as was necessary to "force" the winning run home. For example, if a team trailed by 2 runs with the bases loaded, and the batter hit a fair ball over the fence, it only counted as a triple, because the runner immediately ahead of him had technically already scored the game-winning run. That rule was changed in the 1920s as home runs became increasingly frequent and popular. Babe Ruth's career total would have been 1 higher had that rule not been in effect in the early part of his career.

The all-time career record for home runs in Major League Baseball is 755, held by Hank Aaron since 1974. Only three other Major League Baseball players have hit as many as 600: Babe Ruth (714), Barry Bonds (703 through 2004), and Willie Mays (660). The single season record is 73, set by Barry Bonds in 2001.

Other legendary home run hitters include Ted Williams, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Mickey Mantle (who hit what is considered the longest home run ever at an estimated distance of 643 feet on September 10, 1960), Reggie Jackson, Josh Gibson, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews and Japan's Sadaharu Oh, and all the members of Major League Baseball's 500 home run club.

Home run slang

Slang terms for home runs include: big-fly, blast, bomb, circuit clout, dinger, four-bagger, homer, jack, round-tripper, shot, moonshot, tape-measure shot, swat, tater, wallop and gopherball (because the batter "goes for" it). The act of hitting a home run can be called going yard. A game with many home runs in it can be referred to as a slugfest. A home run that ends the game is often called a walk-off homer, because everyone walks off the field afterward.

Player nicknames that describe home run-hitting prowess include:

Progression of the single-season home run record

5, by George Hall, Philadelphia Athletics (NL), 1876 (70 game schedule)
9, by Charley Jones, Boston Red Stockings (NL), 1879 (84 game schedule)
14, by Harry Stovey, Philadelphia Athletics (AA), 1883 (98 game schedule)
27, by Ned Williamson, Chicago White Stockings (NL), 1884 (112 game schedule)
Williamson benefitted from a very short outfield fence in his home ballpark, Lakeshore Park. During the park's previous years, balls hit over the fence in that park were ground-rule doubles, but in 1884 (its final year) they were credited as home runs. Williamson led the pace, but several of his Chicago teammates also topped the 20 HR mark that season. Of Williamson's total, 25 were hit at home, and only 2 on the road. Noticing the fluke involved, fans of the early 20th century were more impressed with Buck Freeman's total of 25 home runs in 1899 or Gavvy Cravath's 1915 total of 24.
29, by Babe Ruth, Boston Red Sox (AL), 1919 (140 game schedule)
Even with that relatively small quantity, Ruth outslugged 10 of the other 15 major league clubs. The second-highest individual total was 12, by Gavvy Cravath of the Philadelphia Phillies. Ruth homered in every park in the league, the first time anyone had achieved that goal.
54, by Ruth, New York Yankees (AL), 1920 (154 game schedule)
Ruth hit just a few more home runs on the road (26) than he had the previous year (20), but he hit far more (29) in the Polo Grounds in New York (where the Yankees played at the time) than he had in Fenway Park (9) in Boston the year before, as he took full advantage of the nearby right field wall. Of the other 15 major league clubs, only the Philadelphia Phillies exceeded Ruth's single-handeded total, hitting 64 in their bandbox ballpark Baker Bowl. The second-highest individual total was the St. Louis Browns' George Sisler's 19. Ruth's major-league record slugging percentage (total bases / at bats) of .847 stood for the next 80 years.
59, by Ruth, New York (AL), 1921 (154 game schedule)
Ruth's slugging percentage was just .001 less than his record-setting average the previous year.
60, by Ruth, New York (AL), 1927 (154 game schedule)
Ruth hit more home runs in 1927 than any of the other seven American League teams. His closest rival was his teammate Lou Gehrig, who hit 47 homers that year.
61, by Roger Maris, New York (AL), 1961 (162 game schedule)
Pushing Maris that year was teammate Mickey Mantle; slowed by an injury late in the season, Mantle finished with 54.
70, by Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 1998 (162 game schedule)
Pushing McGwire that year was Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, who finished with 66. When McGwire hit his 62nd home run to break the record, the Cardinals were playing at home (Busch Stadium in St. Louis) against the Cubs. In a tremendous show of sportsmanship, Sosa, who was playing in the outfield, actually ran in to celebrate with McGwire, who in return honored Sosa by saluting him in Sosa's own trademark fashion. McGwire also went to the stands to honor Maris' family, who were in attendance at the game. The following day, newspapers throughout the United States printed commemorative sports pages in honor of the milestone.
73, by Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (NL), 2001 (162 game schedule)
Far less press surrounded Bonds's chase for the record than surrounded McGwire's for three main reasons. First, most attention was still focused on the recent 9/11 terrorist attacks. Second, the record at that time had stood for only three years. Third, Barry Bonds' surly relationship with the news media contrasted significantly with the relative openness of McGwire and the expressiveness of Sosa in 1998. Bonds' phenomenal slugging percentage of .863 broke the major league record set by Ruth in 1920.

Selected list of pitchers giving up record home runs:

  • 1919 - Waite Hoyt, New York Yankees - Babe Ruth's 28th of the season
  • 1920 - (still looking for it - July 20), Chicago White Sox - Babe Ruth's 30th of the season
  • 1921 - Bill Bayne, St. Louis Browns - Babe Ruth's 55th of the season
  • 1927 - Tom Zachary, Washington Nats/Senators - Babe Ruth's 60th of the season
  • 1961 - Tracy Stallard, Boston Red Sox - Roger Maris' 61st of the season
  • 1974 - Al Downing, Los Angeles Dodgers - Hank Aaron's 715th of his career
  • 1998 - Steve Trachsel, Chicago Cubs - Mark McGwire's 62nd of the season
  • 2001 - Chan Ho Park, Los Angeles Dodgers - Barry Bonds' 71st of the season

This includes only the home runs that broke a record set in a previous year, not home runs that extended a record within the same year.

Related articles

Career achievement lists

Single game or season achievements

External links

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