The World Series is arguably the biggest stage in professional sports. And the batters’ box of a World Series game is the epicenter of the biggest moments in post-season history. So it is only fitting that five of the Top 10 all-time post-season home run hitters went on to hit more than 500 career round-trippers, thereby qualifying for entry into the league’s most elite group: The 500 Home Run Club.
Mantle Maxed Out World Series At-Bats The greatest home run hitter in the history of the World Series play was Yankee great Mickey Mantle. “The Mick” cranked out a total of 18 legendary dingers while leading his beloved Yankees to seven World Series titles. Perhaps his most memorable post-season longballs was No. 16 (which surpassed Babe Ruth for the most all-time).
Despite the fact that Mantle was nearing the end of his fabled career, and hobbled by chronic sore legs, he reached deep for one of his last ounces of Yankee magic in Game 3 of the 1964 World Series against The St. Louis Cardinals. Coming to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning, with the game tied at 1, “The Commerce Comet” swung with all of his might at the first pitch from Cardinal pitcher Barney Schultz, a knuckleball that failed to move, and hit it into the right field stands to win the game for the Yankees.
Top 10 All-Time Post-Season Home Run Hitters
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Ruth Ruled in World Series
Babe Ruth hit 15 home runs during 10 World Series, including many heroic and memorable shots. The “Sultan of Swat” was the only player ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game on two separate occasions (Game 4 of the 1926 Series and Game 4 of the 1928 Series). But his most famous 1932 World Series homer was his 15th and final post-season bomb, the legendary “Called Shot” in the 5th inning of game three versus Chicago Cubs pitcher Charlie Root.
The Called Shot – Responded to the taunting of Chicago Cubs players (who stood at the top of their dugout steps and mercilessly taunted him) as well as thousand of Wrigley Field faithful, who screamed that he was a “has been” and “too old”, Ruth pointed to the center field bleachers and declaring that he would hit a home run in that direction. The Babe then proceeded to hit the very next pitch out of the park in precisely the spot where he had predicted. The mammoth long ball reportedly traveled 440 feet, making it the longest ball hit at Wrigley Field at the time.
Ruth also pitched in two of the three Fall Classics in which he led the Boston Red Sox to World Series championships (1916, 1918), and he still holds the record for the longest complete game victory in World Series history. In 1916 Ruth pitched 14 innings to help the Red Sox defeat the Brooklyn Robins. He only allowed one run in the first inning, then settled down to shut out the Robins for the next 13 innings for the 2-1 win. The Red Sox would go on to win the Series in 5 games.
Gehrig’s Thunder Boomed Over Ruth’s Lightning
Although Babe Ruth received the majority of the fanfare in the Yankee’s 1932 World Series sweep of the Chicago Cubs, the “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig (honorary 500 HR Club member) was the true star of the October Classic. The mild-mannered Gehrig batted .529 with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs to lead his beloved Yankees to a world championship. Gehrig followed Ruth’s famous "called shot" home run with a towering solo home run, described by sportswriters as "The Thunder after the Lightning."
Mr. October Earns His Nickname
“Mr. October” Reggie Jackson always seemed to save his best play for autumn. Reggie had plenty of opportunity to shine in the postseason, as a member of five world champions (playing for the A's and Yankees). In 27 Fall Classic games, he hit .357 (95 points better than his regular season average) with 24 RBIs and managed to get a clutch hit virtually every time his team needed one.
Fueled by a nationwide TV audience, the legend of “Mr. October” reached its pinnacle during the 1997 World Series, when he became the only player to hit five home runs during a single World Series.
On October 18, 1977, Jackson hit three homers on three consecutive swings off three different Los Angeles pitchers in the sixth and deciding game of the World Series. Only one other player (Babe Ruth) has ever hit three balls into the stands during a single World Series game.
In 1978, Jackson picked up where he left off in 1977, homering in the first game to give him six round-trippers in four consecutive Series games (another record) and in the sixth game to give him seven in back-to-back Series (still another record).
Frank Robinson Powers Awesome O’s
Frank Robinson’s powerful slugging helped his Awesome O’s of 1966 take home Baltimore’s first-ever World Series Championship, along with individual honors including the Triple Crown Championship (for leading the league in batting .316, 44 home runs, and 122 RBIs), World Series MVP and American League MVP (the first to ever win MVP honors in both leagues).
As the Series got underway in Dodger Stadium, Robinson started things off for "the Birds" with a two run homer in the first and Brooks Robinson matched the effort in the next at-bat. Years later, Robinson stated that hitting a "back-to-back" homer in the World Series was his biggest thrill in baseball, even topping his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thome/Murray Moments Lit Up World Series
“Steady Eddie” Murray secured his place in World Series history by blasting two homers in the fifth and deciding game of the 1983 Fall Classic to give his beloved O’s the title.
Years later, in 1995, Murray was nearing the end of his career with Cleveland, while teammate (and eventual fellow 500 Home Run Club members “Big Jim” Thome was in just his fifth year in the bigs.
After seeing his Game 2 home run go for naught, Murray won Game 3 for the Braves with an RBI single.
During Game 5, Thome crushed an offering from Atlanta Braves’ pitcher Brad Clontz 436 feet, which became the eventual game-winning run.
Manny Ramirez's 24 Post-Season Home Runs Help Red Sox End 86-Year Drought
In addition to being one of the most entertaining and popular players ever to wear a Red Sox uniform, Manny Ramirez (507+) helped the team win two World Series titles in four years with timely hitting that raised his post-season home run tally to a MLB best 24.
He has a total of four World Series home runs - three with Cleveland and one with Boston, but his long ball during the 2004 Red Sox World Series home run couldn't have come at a better time. With his team up two games to none Vs. National League champions St. Louis, Manny slammed a first inning home run in Game 3 to keep the momentum going. The Red Sox went on to sweep the Cardinals to take home their first MLB Championship in 86 years.