On September 30, 1927 — in front of an estimated 8,000 fans at Yankee Stadium — Babe Ruth came to the plate with his Yankees and the Washington Senators tied 2-2. Yankees shortstop Mark Koenig — the only one of the top four in that Yankees lineup NOT in the Hall of Fame — tripled, so all Ruth needed to do was crack a little single to give Yankees the lead.
Instead, he pulled a home run to right field over the head of (Hall of Famer) Sam Rice. It was not a particularly impressive home run, certainly not by Ruth standards. “Witnesses of this act in the drama say it was only six inches fair,” wrote W.O. McGeehan. “It was not one of those magnificent home runs banged against the dim horizon, perhaps, but it was a home run nonetheless, and the sixtieth.”
Ruth, as he ran around the bases, took off his cap and waved it to the crowd.
“This was his sixtieth home run,” wrote The Indianapolis News in a particularly prescient commentary, “not only for him, but for all time. Babe Ruth had come back. Nobody can tell about what will happen … but nobody can take away from Babe Ruth the record he has made.”
Nobody can take away from Babe Ruth the record he has made. Here we are, ninety years later, and in so many ways Ruth’s 60 homers of 1927 are still the standard. Four players have hit more than 60 homers in a season, but in one way or another each of them has been wounded by it. Now, Giancarlo Stanton hits home runs at a dizzying pace, and he has a shot at 60 homers, and people talk about him potentially breaking the “real record.”
But you have to wonder: Is the “real record” something that can ever be broken?