One of the rarest events in a Major League Baseball game is the phenomenon known as the inside-the-park home run. According to baseball-almanac.com, only one in every 158 (or 0.63%) of home runs were inside the park between 1951-2000.
Short and Long
Mantle also hit some of the longest home runs in MLB history. On September 10, 1960, “The Mick” hit a ball left-handed that cleared the rightfield roof at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and, based on where it was found, was estimated years later by historian Mark Gallagher to have traveled 643 feet (196 m). Another Mantle homer, this one hit right-handed off Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium in Washington on April 17, 1953, was measured by Yankees traveling secretary Red Patterson (hence the term "tape-measure home run") to have traveled 565 feet (172 m). He also hit at last two gargantuan longballs off the third-deck facade at Yankee Stadium.
Mickey Mantle hit six inside-the-park home runs, despite playing much of his career on a bad leg. "Hitting the ball was easy. Running around the bases was the tough part,” Mantle was quoted as saying. “Just imagine what I could do if I had two good legs,” he quipped.
Although he is known for his longball heroics, Reggie Jackson hit four “short homers” and is the only Oakland A’s player with more than one. Rickey Henderson, for all his speed, only hit one with the A’s. “I love the competition," Jackson said. "It motivates me, stimulates me, excites me. It is almost sexual. I just love to hit that baseball in a big game."
Only 15 players have hit a game winning Inside-The-Park Home Run in the last 50 years. Two of them were eventual members of The 500 Home Run Club®:
Jimmy Sheckard completed a phenomenal feat in 1901, hitting inside-the-park grand slams in consecutive games on consecutive days with the Brooklyn Superbas (later the Brooklyn Dodgers). Sheckard is the only person in Major League Baseball history to do so.
One might think that Ty Cobb would own the Major League career record for inside-the-park shots, but NOT! Cobb only owned the American League record with 46 for his career. A guy named Tommy Leach, a middle-wrung infielder who only had 66 homers for his career, hit 49 of them inside-the-park — a National League record.
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But the Major League career record of 51 inside-the-park jobs belongs outfielder/1st baseman Sam Crawford who hit 13 NL insiders with Cincinnati and another 38 in the AL with the Detroit Tigers.
Cobb and Crawford own their respective league marks with 9 and 12 respectively. Cobb set the AL mark in 1909 and Crawford set his NL mark, hitting 12 of his 13 career NL insiders in the 1901 season.
The all-time single game record for short homers was set by utility man Tom McCreery of the old-time Louisville Colonels of 1897 with 3 in a single game.
51 other players have hit 2 inside-jobs in a game, including amazingly enough, 1972 AL MVP Dick Allen who never was a particularly fast baserunner, but who legged out two inside-the-park homers in a game while with the Chicago White Sox on July 31, 1972.
Others performing the feat included Cobb, Honus Wagner, Willie Keeler, Dan Brouthers and Jesse Burkett who each performed the feat twice in their careers and last, but not least, the immortal Casey Stengel who did his 2 insiders in a game with the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 1, 1913.
Inside the Park Homer Facts
- With his inside the park homer on June 17, 2007, Prince Fielder became the 3rd largest player to hit an inside the park home run, at 260 pounds. His homer came when Outfielder Lew Ford of the Minnesota Twins lost a ball in the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. He repeated this gargantuan feat on June 19, 2008 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
- During the 2007 MLB All-Star Game, Ichiro Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history.