In baseball, a home run is a base hit in which the batter is able to circle all the bases, ending at home plate and scoring a run, with no errors on the play that result in the batter achieving extra bases. Home runs are among the most popular aspects of baseball, and the biggest stars are often the players who hit the most of them.
Types of home runs
In almost all cases, a home run involves hitting the ball over the outfield fence in fair territory. Very rarely, a batter can hit the ball in play and circle all the bases before the fielders can throw him out; this is called an inside-the-park home run, and typically requires that the batter be a quick runner and that the fielder misplay the ball in some way, or that the ball is made difficult to play by caroming in unexpected ways or by becoming difficult for a fielder to reach due to structural variances and peculiarities of different ballparks. If the misplay is labeled an error by the official scorer, however, the batter is not credited with a home run.
A grand slam home run occurs when the bases are "loaded" (that is, there are baserunners standing at first, second, and third base) and the batter hits a home run. An inside-the-park grand slam is the combination of the two, but it requires such a confluence of circumstances that it is very rare.
History of the home run
Prior to 1931, a ball that bounced over an outfield fence during a Major League Baseball game was considered a home run. The rule was changed to require the ball to clear the fence on the fly, and balls which reached the seats on a bounce became ground-rule doubles in most parks.
The all-time career record for home runs in Major League Baseball is 755, held by Hank Aaron since 1974. Only three other Major League Baseball players have hit as many as 600: Babe Ruth (714), Barry Bonds (703 through 2004), and Willie Mays (660). The single season record is 73, set by Barry Bonds in 2001.
Other legendary home run hitters include Ted Williams, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Mickey Mantle (who hit what is considered the longest home run ever at an estimated distance of 643 feet on September 10, 1960), Reggie Jackson, Josh Gibson, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews and Sadaharu Oh, and all the members of Major League Baseball's 500 home run club.
Home run slang
Slang terms for home runs include: big-fly, bomb, dinger, blast, clout, four-bagger, homer, jack, shot, moonshot, round-tripper, swat, tater, gopherball, wallop. The act of hitting a home run can be called going yard. A game with many home runs in it can be referred to as a slugfest.
Player nicknames that describe home run-hitting prowess include:
Progression of the single-season home run record
- 5, by George Hall , Philadelphia Athletics (NL), 1876 (70 games)
- 9, by Charley Jones in 1879
- 14, by Harry Stovey, 1883
- 27, by Ned Williamson, Chicago White Stockings (NL), 1884
- Williamson benefitted from a short outfield fence in his home ballpark. The year before and the year afterward, balls hit over that fence in that park were ground-rule doubles, but in 1884 they counted as home runs. Williamson led the pace, but several of his Chicago teammates also topped the 20 HR mark that season. Noticing the fluke involved, fans of the early 20th century were more impressed with Buck Freeman's total of 25 home runs in 1899 or Gavy Cravath's 1915 total of 24.
- 29, by Babe Ruth, Boston Red Sox (AL), 1919
- 54, by Ruth, New York Yankees (AL), 1920
- Ruth hit nearly the same number of home runs on the road in 1920 as he did in 1919, but hit far more in the Polo Grounds in New York (where the Yankees played at the time) than he did in Fenway Park in Boston the year before.
- 59, by Ruth, New York (AL), 1921
- 60, by Ruth, New York (AL), 1927
- Ruth hit more home runs in 1927 than any of the other seven American League teams. His closest rival was his teammate, Lou Gehrig, who hit 47 homers that year.
- 61, by Roger Maris, New York (AL), 1961
- Pushing Maris that year was teammate Mickey Mantle; slowed by an injury late in the season, Mantle finished with 54.
- 70, by Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 1998
- Pushing McGwire that year was Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, who finished with 66. When McGwire hit his 62nd homerun to break the record, the Cardinals were playing at home (Busch Stadium in St. Louis) against the Cubs. In a tremendous show of sportsmanship, Sosa, who was playing in the outfield, actually ran in to celebrate with McGwire, who in return honored Sosa by saluting him in Sosa's own trademark fashion. McGwire also went to the stands to honor Maris's family, who were in attendance at the game. The following day, newspapers throughout the United States printed commemorative sports pages in honor of the milestone.
- 73, by Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (NL), 2001
- Far less press surrounded Bonds's chase for the record than surrounded McGwire's for two main reasons. First, most attention was still focused on the recent 9/11 terrorist attacks. Second, the record at that time had stood for only three years.
Career achievement lists
Single game or season achievements
Home run also refers to a cable configuration where cable runs from a central location to each device individually, i.e. a Star Topology as opposed to a Daisy Chain Topology.