On July 21, 1915, Boston Red Sox rookie Babe Ruth struck a prodigious drive that sailed far over the right field bleachers at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The ball cleared the wide breadth of Grand Boulevard and landed on the sidewalk approximately 470 feet from home plate. That was the start of modern long-distance hitting, and a testament to Ruth's uniqueness that he was able to set objective standards of performance that have never been surpassed.
Did you ever wonder how the TV statisticians and commentators know
precisely how far a home run travels within moments of when it lands in
mitt of an adoring fan or bounces off the façade of a major league
baseball stadium? When a distance is posted on the scoreboard or
broadcast to millions of people watching on TV, it has been computed in
one of two different ways:
1) "Tale of the Tape” uses a
mathematical formula based on a highly detailed architectural map of the
baseball stadium to calculate the distance a ball would have traveled
if it hadn't hit any obstruction. Despite being a mathematical method,
the "Tale of the Tape" is still just a best estimate.
Dimensional Tracking software programs, such as “True Track,” introduced
by SportVision, the same company that makes the Virtual First-Down Line
in football, True Track utilizes specialized cameras – calibrated with
known points in the stadium – to track a baseball and produce a virtual
3-D grid, calculating where a fly ball is in relation to that grid. A
final home-run distance can be calculated instantly using the position
of the ball and the position of home plate in the grid.
a combination of these two technologies, and historical data about the
stadium layouts and dimensions where homers were hit, experts have
proven that members of The 500 Home Run Club® not only provided some of
the most memorable long ball moments, but also some of the most
monstrous round-trippers of all time.
Mickey Mantle, Yankee
Stadium –– The ball Mantle called the "hardest ball I ever hit" came on May 22, 1963 in the
11th inning versus the Kansas City A's. Pitcher Bill Fischer tried to
blow a fastball past “The Commerce Comet” and immediately realized he’d
made a big mistake. “The Mick” hit a liner to right field that struck
Yankee Stadium’s outfield facade just inches from the top, barely
sparing him the distinction of becoming the only man ever to hit a fair
ball out of the historic ballpark during a MLB game.
According to HitTrackerOnline.com, the true distance of the Mantle "facade" homer at 504 feet.
Note: Be sure to check out our guest 600 HRC page byline by
SeatGeek.com’s Justin Norman who applies HitTrackerOnline.com technology
to tell fans where to find the “Best Seat In The House To Catch A-Rod’s
600th Home Run.”
The “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams, Tiger Stadium –– On May 4, 1939 Ted
Williams cleared the towering right-field grandstand in Detroit and
served notice he was as powerful as he was refined with a bat. As late
as 1960, Teddy Ballgame was still going strong, when he opened the
season in Washington with a 475-foot bolt to right-center field.
October” Reggie Jackson, Tiger Stadium –– On July 13, 1971, Reggie
Jackson blasted what almost certainly was the longest All-Star homer of
all time. Jackson's line drive off Pirates’ pitcher Dock Ellis cleared
the right-center field roof and hit near the top of a 100-foot tall
electrical transformer, about 380 feet from home plate. The ball
vanished from the camera focused on Tiger Stadium’s upper deck (a
reasonable place to look for a normal home run), and dropped back into
frame after 4.8 seconds. Hit Tracker data combined with atmospherics
proved the ball would have traveled an incredible 532 feet.
Bonds, Angels Stadium –– On Oct. 26, 2002, leading off the sixth inning
of World Series Game 6, San Franciso Giant Barry Bonds crushed a pitch
from the Angels ace reliever "K-Rod" Francisco Rodriguez, deep into the
right field seats for his fourth World Series home run. Bonds' historic
and epic shot has been estimated at 485 feet.
"Big Mac” Mark McGwire,
Jacobs Field –– On April 30, 1997, Mark McGwire hit what was considered
the longest homerun in Jacobs Field history. On a 0-1 pitch in the 3rd
inning, Orel Hershiser buzzed a fastball under Big Mac’s chin, but
apparently the mighty slugger didn’t get the message, because on the
very next pitch he launched a drive that cleared the 19-foot fence and
the 23 rows of bleachers. The bomb struck the Budweiser sign between the
“I” and “S”, a feat no other player has accomplished before or since.
Estimates marked the homer at 485 feet, but many speculated that the
ball would have gone further had it returned to ground level, and Hit
Tracker analysis indicates the ball - uninterrupted by the scoreboard -
would have traveled a mind-boggling 512 feet! Hershiser’s reaction: one
"Manny Ramirez, SkyDome, June 3, 2001 –– In 2001, Red
Sox slugger Manny Ramirez hammered a pitch from Toronto's Chris
Carpenter into the 5th deck of SkyDome’s left field stands, which was
reported as having traveled 491 feet. But Hit Tracker analysis suggests
it did not go nearly that far. With the roof closed, Skydome
atmospherics were a comfortable 68 degrees, with no wind and 270 feet of
altitude. The landing spot was 399 horizontal feet from home plate, at a
height of approximately 73 feet above field level, and the time of
flight was 4.91 seconds. With these parameters, Hit Tracker says
Ramirez' homer covered 447 feet.
Editor’s Note: Any 400+ feet homer
is noteworthy and a blow of 450+ feet shows exceptional power, since
most MLB players are unable to hit a ball that far. Anything in the
500-ft range is genuinely historic. Between 1982 and 1995, only one
500+ foot drive was confirmed by the "Tale of the Tape." system: Cecil
Fielder of the Detroit Tigers is credited with powering a ball 502 feet
in the air over the left-field bleachers at Milwaukee's County Stadium
on September 14, 1991. For a list of the longest hits in MLB ballparks,visit CBSsports.com.