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Glamour of the single-season HR record

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  • Glamour of the single-season HR record

    When I was eleven or twelve years old, the single most famous baseball record was Babe Ruth's 60 homeruns in 1927. It was part of the legend of the fabled 1927 Yankees team. It was more famous than Hornsby's single-season batting average of .424, Cobb's career BA of .357, or any other homerun record set by The Babe.

    Every time a hitter made a credible challange to the Ruthian record, our daily paper would carry a box comparing that hitter with "Ruth 1927" total for the same number of games.

    Ruth was "challanged" by Kiner and Mize in 1947, Kiner again in 1949 and 1950, Matthews in 1953, Kluszewski in 1954, Mays in 1955, Mantle in 1956 -- but all would fall short, just as Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg had failed before them. It seemed no one could match the magic of Ruth's Sixty Homerun Season.

    Until 1961, when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris both made a race of it -- and in the first baseball expansion of the 20th Century, Maris actually broke the most famous of all baseball records. Of course, the Maris record was tainted -- due to expanision he often faced watered-down pitching, and of course the season had 8 extra games. Through the first 154 games of 1961 Maris had "only" 59 homeruns. Without those eight added games, Maris would also have fallen short -- hence the famous Ford Frick Asterisk.

    After the record was "stolen" from Ruth, the public seemed to lose interest in the single-season homerun record -- until 37 years later, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made a tight race, and both sluggers ended up ahead of Maris (and Ruth). McGwire finished with 70 HR and Sosa with 66. This homerun race seemed to inspired the public again -- but only for a short time. Barry Bonds broke their record with 73 homeruns in 2001 (a scant three years later). This achievement created a brief period of "public interest" but that seemed to fade very soon afterward.

    Is this because homerun records had now become too commonplace? Was there too little time for the McGwire record to become entrenched in the public mind before a new standard was set? I suspect that may be the problem.

    There now seems to be very little public attention to the single season homerun record that Bonds set in 2001. Current focus is on the career homerun record (Aaron's 755,which surpassed the Ruth record of 714). During Ruth's lifetime there was relatively little attention given to his career homerun total, but now the Aaron record of 755 has become the most important of all MLB hitting records. When Bonds or someone else sets a new MLB record for career homeruns it will probably draw more attention than would any new record for a single season. It will be advertised as the greatest hitting achievement ever -- much more important than Barry's single-season record of 73 HR in 2001.

    Do you agree? Why is this so?
    Last edited by Appling; 02-16-2006, 06:10 PM.
    Luke

  • #2
    I think your shortchanging Ned Williamson's HR record, it took 35 years before Ruth broke it''

    Comment


    • #3
      Ruth's record wasn't stolen, it was simply surpassed. Why do we find it necessary to denigrade Maris? In football many poeple have surpassed Jim Brown's single season rushing record. But Brown is still the greatest running back ever. And Ruth is still the greatest HR hitter ever.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

      Comment


      • #4
        I think you're partially right about the comparative lack of interest in Bonds' 2001 season. When McGwire hit his 70 HR in '98, nobody had topped the 60 mark since 1961. But by the time 2001 rolled around, folks were hitting 60 homers every year, so it became watered down.

        I think by the time Bonds got around to breaking the record, the gig was up, and everyone realized the incredible numbers that were being put up were tainted.

        But there are two other things which I think added to the apathy of Bonds' season:

        1. The guy is a total jerk, and it's very hard to pull for him.
        2. The nation had just went through the 9/11 tragedy. That tended to overshadow what was happening on the baseball diamond.
        "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by blackout805
          I think your shortchanging Ned Williamson's HR record, it took 35 years before Ruth broke it''
          Good point! How many people even know about Williamson hitting 27 homeruns in 1884 -- or Buck Freeman and Wildfire Schulte hitting over 20 in a season after Williamson (but before Ruth's 29 in 1919)?

          So what is it that draws attention to any individual hitting record today when the same record might go unnoticed in years past?
          Would a Triple Crown Season draw more attention today than it did in 1942?
          Last edited by Appling; 02-16-2006, 05:46 PM.
          Luke

          Comment


          • #6
            Having McGwire and Sosa both surpass 61 the way they did, spoke volumes about their "enhancements" and the games "enhancements." We've all become numb to the homerun in today's game. We're more shocked when we see a triple, a well exectuted hit and run, or a drag bunt.

            Babe hit his 60th in game number 150 in 1927.

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            • #7
              I think the 90s have definitely diminished the home run record, especially with so many 60 homerun seasons and 50 homerun seasons packed together. How many times was 60 hit in the 90s? 6 times? For 70 years 60 home runs was a mythical number, then it's done 6 times in 3 years. Totally devalues the record, IMO. Perhaps if the current mark stands for several decades, or even if 60 homeruns remains elusive again for a number of decades, the record will again have some meaning.

              Comment


              • #8
                What matters most is the number of opportunities to play.

                I believe the official MLB record book still maintains separate lists for some records for 154 game seasons v. 162-game seasons. (This is for records where the old record has since been exceeded, due to the longer 162-game schedule).
                * Most at-bats, season
                * Most plate appearances, season
                * Most hits by pinch hitter, season
                * Most homeruns, season
                * Most homeruns by 2nd Baseman, season
                * Most homeruns with bases filled (American League), season
                * Most games, rookie season
                * Most total bases, rookie season
                -- and many others
                Luke

                Comment


                • #9
                  it's "most home runs in a season", not "most home runs in whatever jive-else thing" someone wants to argue.
                  the season was extended from 154 to 162 games, but it's still a season.

                  those with a problem with "162-game players" overtaking 154-game records are those who wish for the ol' days of spitballs or what have you or have a personal grudge of some type or something else that evades me right now.
                  :grouchy
                  "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    it matters not at all that maris did not homer i his first 10 games.
                    it would not matter if he went homerless in his first 20 and final 15.
                    the man broke the existing record for "most home runs in a season".
                    "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by west coast orange and black
                      it matters not at all that maris did not homer in his first 10 games.
                      it would not matter if he went homerless in his first 20 and final 15.
                      the man broke the existing record for "most home runs in a season".
                      That's true. At the time, some feared that the extended 162-game schedule would continue to errode the hallowed mark set by Ruth -- that it might be broken again every few years (and many other "counting" records as well).

                      As we all know now, those fears were unfounded. In fact, Maris record of 61 HR ended up lasting longer than Ruth's record of 60. That seems to be a measure of a record's importance: "How long before it is broken again?"

                      BTW: In the first post, I put the word "stolen" in quotes. I myself admired Roger Maris (and I worked in the same Norwood Ohio factory as Roger's brother Rudy, who was a Manufacturing Engineer there until he left to become his brother's business manager in 1962).
                      Luke

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by west coast orange and black
                        it matters not at all that maris did not homer i his first 10 games.
                        it would not matter if he went homerless in his first 20 and final 15.
                        the man broke the existing record for "most home runs in a season".
                        I'm on the same page.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DoubleX
                          I think the 90s have definitely diminished the home run record, especially with so many 60 homerun seasons and 50 homerun seasons packed together. How many times was 60 hit in the 90s? 6 times? For 70 years 60 home runs was a mythical number, then it's done 6 times in 3 years. Totally devalues the record, IMO. Perhaps if the current mark stands for several decades, or even if 60 homeruns remains elusive again for a number of decades, the record will again have some meaning.
                          95 - 50 (belle)
                          96 - 52 (mcgwire), 50 (anderson)
                          97 - 58 (mcgwire), 56 (griffey)
                          98 - 70 (mcgwire), 66 (sosa), 56 (griffey), 50 (g vaughn)
                          99 - 66 (mcgwire), 63 (sosa)
                          00 - 50 (sosa)
                          01 - 73 (bonds), 64 (sosa), 57 (gonzolez), 52 (rodriguez)
                          02 - 57 (rodriguez), 52 (thome)
                          05 - 51 (jones)

                          all were either outfielders or first basemen except for A-rod

                          ironic how none of them were DH's
                          Last edited by Blackout; 02-16-2006, 06:20 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Appling
                            Good point! How many people even know about Williamson hitting 27 homeruns in 1884 -- or Buck Freeman and Wildfire Schulte hitting over 20 in a season after Williamson (but before Ruth's 29 in 1919)?
                            If anyone deserved an asterisk, it was Ned Williamson.
                            Playing for the Cubs at Lake Shore Park. If I recall it was about 180 feet down the foul line. before Ned hit that 27 a ball hit over the fence was a ground rule double. it was changed for one season 1884 and Ned hit 25 of his 27 in that park. In 1885 the old rule came back, ground rule double, that year Ned hit a total of 3 home runs.

                            The Cubs team home runs a few years before and after that change in 1884.

                            1882--15 home runs
                            1883--13 home runs
                            1884--142 home runs
                            1885--54
                            1886--53

                            The most by one hitter on that team.
                            1882--4 home runs
                            1883--3
                            1884--27---25--22--21-- Four hitters with over 20 home runs in that season.
                            1885--11 home runs

                            Ne
                            Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 02-16-2006, 06:30 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3
                              If anyone deserved an asterisk, it was Ned Williamson.
                              Playing for the Cubs at Lake Shore Park. If I recall it was about 180 feet down the foul line. before Ned hit that 27 a ball hit over the fence was a ground rule double. it was changed for one season, 1884 and Ned hit 25 of his 27 in that park. In 1885 the old rule came back, ground rule double, that year Ned hit a total of 3 home runs.

                              The Cubs team home runs a few years before and after that change in 1884.

                              1882--15 home runs
                              1883--13 home runs
                              1884--142 home runs
                              1885--54
                              1886--53

                              The most by one hitter on that team.
                              1882--4 home runs
                              1883--3
                              1884--27---25--22--21--9 four hitters with over 20 home runs
                              1885--11 home runs

                              Ne

                              but he had the most homers on his team, despite the other three guys with 20+ homers having more at-bats than him

                              including the legendary Cap Anson with 21

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