Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sept 30, 1927 – Babe Ruth becomes first player to hit 60 home runs in a season

The 1927 season featured a fearsome New York Yankees lineup of power hitters known as “Murderer’s Row” that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzerri and Bob Meusel. Ruth led the American League in home runs throughout the year, but did not appear to be within reach of his record 59 home runs, set in 1921, until he hit 16 in the month of September, tying his record on September 29. On September 30, in the last game of the season, Ruth came to the plate against lefty Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators in the eighth inning. With the count at 2-1, Ruth launched a Zachary pitch high into the right-field bleachers, and then took a slow stroll around the bases as the crowd celebrated by tearing paper into confetti and throwing hats into the air. Upon assuming his position in right-field for the ninth inning, those seated in the bleachers waved hankies at the famed slugger; Ruth responded with multiple military salutes.

During Ruth’s career with the Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Boston Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”

Ruth died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948. His record for career home runs was not broken until Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, 39 years later.

Sept. 29, 1954 – Willie Mays makes his famous over the shoulder catch

The Catch refers to a memorable defensive baseball play by Willie Mays on September 29, 1954, during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York on a ball hit by Vic Wertz. The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the 8th inning. Starting pitcher Sal Maglie walked Larry Doby and gave up a single to Al Rosen, putting runners on first and second. Giants manager Leo Durocher summoned left-handed relief pitcher Don Liddle to replace Maglie and pitch to Cleveland’s Wertz, also a left-hander.

Wertz worked the count to two balls and one strike before crushing Liddle’s fourth pitch approximately 420 feet to deep center field. In many stadiums the hit would have been a home run and given the Indians a 5-2 lead. However, this was the spacious Polo Grounds, and Giants center fielder Willie Mays, who was playing in shallow center field, made an on-the-run, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to make the out. Having caught the ball, he immediately spun and threw the ball, losing his hat in characteristic style. Doby, the runner on second, might have been able to score the go-ahead run had he tagged at the moment the ball was caught; as it was, he ran when the ball was hit, then had to scramble back to retag and only got as far as third base. (Rosen stayed at first on this play.) Liddle was then relieved by Marv Grissom, to which he supposedly remarked “Well, I got my man!” (The next batter walked to load the bases, but the next two batters were retired to end the inning with no runs scored.)

Willie Mays’ incredible catch:

“Being healthy is a complete lifestyle for me. It allows my brain to function at a very high degree so I can comprehend all the new things that are thrown at me. It also allows me to sleep well so that I am rested when I need to perform. Finally, being healthy will hopefully allow me to live a long and fun-filled life.” – Derrick Rose

Sept. 28, 1941 – Ted Williams finished the season with a .406 batting average

Ted Williams batting average stood at .39955 with a season-finale doubleheader to be played the next day at Shibe Park, home of Connie Mack’s Athletics. Since batting averages are rounded to the next decimal, Williams could have sat out the final two games and still officially crested baseball’s imposing .400 barrier.

At the time, Williams said, “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.”

Williams, concluding his third season with the Boston Red Sox, went 6 for 8 in the two games to finish at .406, and no one has since hit .400 or better for a season. He was the last major league player of the century to achieve this statistic.

Williams would go on to be one of the most feared hitters in Major League Baseball. His lifetime .344 average is one of the best in the record books. Williams was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.