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Old 24 May 2007, 08:30 PM
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Blow Your Top Home run between pitcher's legs

Comment: I heard once that Babe Ruth hit a home run that actually went
between the pitcher's legs on the way out.
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  #2  
Old 24 May 2007, 10:53 PM
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^Baseball bat

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: I heard once that Babe Ruth hit a home run that actually went
between the pitcher's legs on the way out.
From this Time Magazine article:

Quote:
A rollicking, muffin-headed giant (6 ft. 2 in., 230 Ibs.) with the slender legs of a showgirl, Ruth was the finest baseball player who ever lived...Nobody ever hit a ball so hard: he once drove a liner through a pitcher's legs with such force that it sailed over the centerfielder's head.
But that's the only reference I can find. I would think something like that would be referenced more.
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Old 25 May 2007, 07:26 AM
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I'm no expert on baseball, but from the height that the ball is pitched at, if it went between the legs of the pitcher surely it must be on a downwards path.

Think about the height of a pitcher's waist compared with the height of the wall circling the boundary of the field (sorry I don't know its name). To have any chance of it being a home run, the ball would need to be hit from nearly floor-level!
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  #4  
Old 25 May 2007, 08:25 AM
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True fact about Babe Ruth: Babe Ruth once hit a baseball so hard, it bounced off the ground and broke the law of conservation of momentum.
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Old 25 May 2007, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spikey View Post
I'm no expert on baseball, but from the height that the ball is pitched at, if it went between the legs of the pitcher surely it must be on a downwards path.

Think about the height of a pitcher's waist compared with the height of the wall circling the boundary of the field (sorry I don't know its name). To have any chance of it being a home run, the ball would need to be hit from nearly floor-level!
Pitchers do stand on a mound that I guess in some extreme cases could make a pitcher's legs level with a hitter's bat. Still, a straight line drive isn't going anywhere. Maybe it was a situation where the pitcher tried to jump out of the way and got like 6 feet in the air? Hey, I'm just trying to help.

Honestly, I haven't heard this story before and I have heard a LOT of baseball stories.
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Old 25 May 2007, 03:26 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Doesn't sound likely that it was an "out of the park home" run. The quote from Time doesn't say it was a homer, only that it went over the centerfielders head. Not likely unless the ball struck the top of the pitchers mound or the pitching rubber.

I can see a hard hit liner bouncing off the pitching rubber and over the head of the centerfielder. Heck, if the centerfielder was playing very shallow for defensive reasons, like less than 2 out and a runner at second or third base, then it would be fairly easy.

I don't think it is very likely that a liner through the pitchers legs, even if it struck the mound or the rubber, would clear the outfield wall. For a homer though, it doesn't have to leave the park. A wild bounce on the liner could give an "in the park home run".

My baseball scoring is rusty. Is it a homer if there is a fielding error? I suspect not. The run(s) count of course but for scoring reasons the batter wouldn't be credited with a homer or his own run scored.
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Old 25 May 2007, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
...

My baseball scoring is rusty. Is it a homer if there is a fielding error? I suspect not. The run(s) count of course but for scoring reasons the batter wouldn't be credited with a homer or his own run scored.
Reaching base on an error is not counted as a hit for the purposes of statistics (batting average or the pitcher's earned run average; hmmm, I'm not sure about runs scored or RBIs, though). In the case of a hard hit ball going through the pitcher's legs, though, that might not be counted as an error.

Nick
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Old 25 May 2007, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
I don't think it is very likely that a liner through the pitchers legs, even if it struck the mound or the rubber, would clear the outfield wall. For a homer though, it doesn't have to leave the park. A wild bounce on the liner could give an "in the park home run".
It didn't even have to leave park without bouncing. When Ruth started playing in the major leagues, there was no ground rule double; any fair ball over the fence was a home run. I agree though, it doesn't seem at all likely that a ball would go that far on a bounce off the pitching rubber, though.
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  #9  
Old 25 May 2007, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
A rollicking, muffin-headed giant (6 ft. 2 in., 230 Ibs.) with the slender legs of a showgirl, Ruth was the finest baseball player who ever lived...Nobody ever hit a ball so hard: he once drove a liner through a pitcher's legs with such force that it sailed over the centerfielder's head.
I agree that the rules were different, actually with today's rules Ruth might have a different number of career home runs. The Time Magazine quote says that the ball sailed over the centerfielder's head. So, it could have bounced behind him, (playing shallow was not uncommon then, although terribly dumb against Ruth, the best power hitter of his time) or he could have had an inside-the-park homer, he did hit a couple of those in his career.

Another apocrophyl story is that Ruth hit a ball so high in a pop-up that he scored an inside-the-park homer. The John Goodman film Babe has this happen in one scene [Goodman pointed out at the time of that film that he had to go on a diet to play a fat guy, but the Time description shows otherwise Ruth had a barrel chest and massive shoulders too.]

Ali "no 'roids on me" Infree
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Old 25 May 2007, 06:44 PM
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I can imagine what was going through the pitcher's mind at the time:

"Great. Years from now, everyone's going to remember another home run for the Bambino, but will anyone even think about the guy who could pitch a fastball from a handstand?"
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Old 25 May 2007, 08:28 PM
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I knew I had read this somewhere:

Quote:
Of Babe Ruth's 714 career home runs, 10 were of the inside-the-park variety.
cite

Perhaps he hit a ball between the pitcher's legs and got an inside the park homerun. The bit about going over the center fielder's head would probably just be elaboration a la your average fish tale.
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  #12  
Old 25 May 2007, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spikey View Post
I'm no expert on baseball, but from the height that the ball is pitched at, if it went between the legs of the pitcher surely it must be on a downwards path.
Pitcher's mounds weren't always at the same height they are now. It took a while before mound heights were uniformly standardized by the rules.

- snopes
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Old 25 May 2007, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali Infree View Post
the Time description shows otherwise Ruth had a barrel chest and massive shoulders too.
Indeed, he had an odd shape, but he was quite a well-built athlete, and he underwent a rigorous personal training program before each season in the latter half of his career. Unfortunately, the pictures of him that predominate are the ones from the last few years of his playing days, when he could no longer work off the pot belly.

- snopes
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  #14  
Old 25 May 2007, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
Reaching base on an error is not counted as a hit for the purposes of statistics (batting average or the pitcher's earned run average; hmmm, I'm not sure about runs scored or RBIs, though). In the case of a hard hit ball going through the pitcher's legs, though, that might not be counted as an error.

Nick
RBIs and runs scored on errors are dependent on if the error occurred at first on the back half of a double play, if the error was relevant to a runner scoring from third with less than two out, or if the error was a contributing factor to the run scoring. OBR Rule 10.04(a)(1),(3)&(b)(2).
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Old 26 May 2007, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Pitcher's mounds weren't always at the same height they are now. It took a while before mound heights were uniformly standardized by the rules.

- snopes
I had this same thought. And where did it happen? Even today ball parks don't have standard outfield depths, but back in that days, some parks had HUGE outfields. The Polo Grounds in NY was over 500 feet to the centerfield wall. (Which is what makes that Willie Mays play so remarkable. He was out that far and made the catch and still had the sense to turn around and throw the ball in.)

A high pitching mound, a shallow centefielder, and a deep outfield could easily lend itself to this being true and being an in the park homerun. Before the Babe, homeruns hit out of the park were not uncommon, but in the park homeruns were more in vogue. When Ruth set the homerun record at 60, that was more than double the current homerun record (which Ruth himself had set years earlier).
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Old 26 May 2007, 04:57 AM
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I was thinking the exact same thing just now. Yankee Stadium itself had a massively deep center field before it was renovated in the 70s (for those who have gone to the stadium but don't know how deep CF was, the monuments were in play). Not as deep as the Polo Grounds, of course, and the Yankees didn't play a lot of games there in Ruth's time, but there were other parks with weird dimensions where this kind of thing could happen. I'm thinking specifically of cavernous Griffith Stadium and Old Comiskey Park.

ETA: Wiki is incorrect about the ground rule double. Each park basically set their own rules about that kind of thing until the league said one bounce and then into the stands = a double. You can go back to the 19th century and find teams that called balls that went into the stands on the *fly* a double.

Last edited by Johnny Slick; 26 May 2007 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 26 May 2007, 04:37 PM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
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I have alway wondered how Babe Ruth would do against the pitchers he would see today and the rules of the game today. In his day it was not common (more likely very rarely if at all) for Babe to face a realy good pitcher (something you would see on the mound today).
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Old 26 May 2007, 11:03 PM
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I want to say that the height of the pitcher's mound [U]was[[U] standardized by then. The distance to home plate had been moved back largely because of Amos Rusie, the "Hoosier Fireball" from 60 feet to 60 feet six inches.I will look for a source on this.

I personally think that the Babe's bat speed could take care of a lot of today's pitchers. Remember he faced pitchers who could legally throw spitballs and had other pitches including the knuckleball, as well as pitchers able to throw two complete games back-to-back. The role of specialist pitchers to throw to one batter, or middle relievers and closers do make for an interesting question though.I would like to see a stimulation of him against a good splitter though. The movement that a good pitcher can get on one of those is a pretty thing.

Ali "peanuts and Cracker Jacks" Infree
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Old 27 May 2007, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali Infree View Post
I want to say that the height of the pitcher's mound [U]was[[U] standardized by then. The distance to home plate had been moved back largely because of Amos Rusie, the "Hoosier Fireball" from 60 feet to 60 feet six inches.I will look for a source on this.

I personally think that the Babe's bat speed could take care of a lot of today's pitchers. Remember he faced pitchers who could legally throw spitballs and had other pitches including the knuckleball, as well as pitchers able to throw two complete games back-to-back. The role of specialist pitchers to throw to one batter, or middle relievers and closers do make for an interesting question though.I would like to see a stimulation of him against a good splitter though. The movement that a good pitcher can get on one of those is a pretty thing.

Ali "peanuts and Cracker Jacks" Infree
The height of the mound was defined but wasn't often regulated until the sixties. For example, there are many stories about pitchers describing climbing the mound at Dogers Stadium during the Koufax/Drysdale years as scaling a mountain.

The National League moved the pitchers' plate to 60'6" from 60' in 1893 (there wasn't a central baseball authority so other leagues may not have made the switch at exactly the same time), with the goal of increasing scoring around the league. Rusie came up in 1889 and was certainly part of the reason for the change, but probably not exclusively the reason for the move.
No more than Roger Maris' 61 homeruns caused the strike zone to be resized in 1963 or Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA in 1968 was the cause of the enforcement of mound height and other changes made to help the hitters out in 1969.

As for Babe Ruth in the modern era, there are a lot of other factors to condsider, like the effect of night games, the outlawing of plugged bats, longer schedules and longer seasons and as an older player (once he started to put on weight) if he'd be able to play the outfield on artificial turf (or if he'd accept playing DH).

Just flipping through Baseball's Golden Age, The photographs of Charles M. Conlon Ruth does look like a skinny kid in a Red Sox unform in 1918. Even in a 1922 photo, you can see some upper body development, but he doesn't look "barrel-chested" or "fat". By 1934 (his last year in NY), he's definitely put on some weight.

-Eltanin
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Old 27 May 2007, 03:19 AM
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Ruth also didn't ever have to face an African-American pitcher in a game that mattered and also faced a generation of pitchers to whom it was considered good gamesmanship to "coast" through the middle innings. FWIW I think that the superstars of every era would be stars today, whether they're Ruth or Ty Cobb or Sandy Koufax. It's a solid lock that the game of today is harder to play and more refined, though.

As for the pitching mound, IIRC there really wasn't any guideline to build pitching mounds, period. Originally the pitching rubber replaced the pitcher's box in I think 1892 - before that point there was, literally, a little roped-out box where a pitcher could throw from. A lot of guys would stand at one far edge of the box and land on the far other edge when they threw. This, I think, was called the "crossfire" and could be very devastating to like-handed hitters (think of what sidearmers do today, only more pronounced). Gradually teams made the mound get a little taller and taller in order to give their guys an edge. Eventually the major leagues said that you couldn't make the mounds any taller than (whatever size they were). That being said, there has never been a time when umpires would physically go out and measure mounds. To this day, some teams sculpt them high and some have them very low. It's part of the allure of baseball, the subtle ways a groundskeeper can make one park play completely different than another.

The rubber was never 60 feet even away from home plate. It was always 60'6" (or, IIRC, 50 feet the year before). I believe that was a typo included in the rulebook but never corrected because what the heck, they'd already measured it out and what do 6 inches matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eltanin the SPANKER
As for Babe Ruth in the modern era, there are a lot of other factors to condsider, like the effect of night games, the outlawing of plugged bats, longer schedules and longer seasons and as an older player (once he started to put on weight) if he'd be able to play the outfield on artificial turf (or if he'd accept playing DH).
I don't think players knew much about the advantages of corking bats until Norm Cash had that monster year in the early 1960s. In Babe Ruth's era, the going wisdom was the bigger and heavier the bat, the better for power. The schedule itself is only 8 games longer but is spread out more days so if anything the players get more rest today than they did then. Train travel vs. plane travel exacerbates that. There was a time when all the Eastern AL teams had to schedule games vs Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland at the same time because it took several days to get out "west" and back.

As for age, Ruth didn't really age all that well. He played up to his late 30s, then had a bad season when he was around 38 and boom, the Yanks dropped him off on the Boston Braves, where he sucked for 30 games and called it quits. One of the things that made him such an amazing player is that his position-player career only lasted about 15 years. Before that, of course, he was one of the top left-handed pitchers in the AL. Imagine Johan Santana walking up to the Twins' front office and demanding that they convert him to the outfield.

Last edited by Johnny Slick; 27 May 2007 at 03:27 AM.
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