Over the history of baseball there have been several ways the greatest baseball players are measured. Some have to do with hitting average, both over a season and a career. Another is RBIs, both over a career and season. Another is the percentage of times a player gets on base. This measure was made famous by the 2011 movie “Moneyball,” which starred Brad Pitt and the general manager of the Oakland Athletics.
No play in baseball is as exciting or explosive as the home run. The first player to make this a major part of baseball offense was Babe Ruth who is still considered the best player in the history of the game. Ruth hit 714 home runs over the course of 21 years, most of which were with the New York Yankees. He played from 1914 until 1935. He hit 60 home runs in 1927 and 59 in 1921.
Ruth’s career home run record lasted until Hank Aaron broke it in 1974. His single season home run record was broken in 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61. Purests argue that Maris played in a 162 game season, and Ruth in a season in which there were only 154.
The home run record, both for single seasons and careers, became complicated later. Mark McGuire hit 70 home runs in 1998, but was accused of using performance enhancing steroids. Barry Bonds broke the career record held by Aaron (755) and reached 762. His feat was also clouded by steroid use. By some measures, Aaron’s record still stands.
Another record is for the longest home based on how far it traveled from home plate. This record is also hard to determine. For years, long home runs were measured by eyesight. At another point, tape measures were used. And, some of the longest may be apocryphal–based on the opinion of a very few people. Today, the measurements can be made by lasers, and other advanced technologies.
It is widely accepted that the longest home run record is held by Ruth at 575 feet. It was set in 1921 in Detroit. This fact has been disputed. Some put Ruth’s record at 587 feet at a game in Tampa on April 4, 1921. He hit this homerun in Plant Field, which no longer exists.
Ruth still rules the history of the home run, even if he does not hold the single season or career record. If he had the two longest home runs, set over a century ago, it is another astonishing part of his career.
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