With one game of the 2011 World Series in the books, it’s time to look at another World Series record. While game 1 of the Fall Classic was a low scoring, pitchers and bullpen duel (something I didn’t think would happen in this series), let’s look at the long ball. More specifically, the record for most home runs in a World Series.
This dubious distinction is held by two men, Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees set in 1977 and Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. Both men clubbed five home runs in a six game series.
After game one in St. Louis on Wednesday that featured one long ball, courtesy of Mike Napoli of the Rangers, this record could be threatened, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
The most recent component of this two part record took place just two years ago. The 2009 World Series had the Phillies pitted up agains the evil empire, New York Yankees and while the Yankees stole the show by winning their 27th title, it was Chase Utley who put on a hitting display.
Utley clubbed two long balls in game one in what turned into a Phillies romp, a 6-1 win. Utley would then go two games without a homer before belting one in game four and two more in game five, bringing his total to the record tying five. With the Phillies trailing 3-2 in the series, he did have one, possibly two more games to break the record, but a Yankee win in game six gave them the series and left Utley tied for the home run record.
Prior to Utley’s fine performance, Reggie Jackson held the distinct honor of being the only player to hit five home runs in a World Series. As was the case in 2009, the Yankees were American League champions and were up against Tommy Ladorda’s, LA Dodgers. The series went six games, with the Yankees handing manager Billy Martin his only championship as skipper of the Yankees.
Jackson’s record five home runs is astonishing in itself that he hit five long balls in six games. But dig into the details of those a little bit and you’ll find something rather interesting.
Jackson didn’t hit one home run during the first three games of the series. That’s right, it wasn’t until game four, with the Yankees leading the series 2-1 that Jackson hit his first round tripper. He would again go deep in game five, but it was his performance in game six that is so fascinating and what earned him the name Mr. October.
Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in game six of the 1977 World Series to lead his team to victory and the world championship; a truly remarkable feat. It gave Jackson a total of five long balls for the series, but more importantly gave the Yankees another championship year.
There have been a handful of others who have hit four home runs in a World Series, many who did so in a seven game series. Barry Bonds in 2002 and Babe Ruth in 1926 are just two of five who did so.
Another startling record is Lou Gehrig’s four home runs in four games in the 1928 World Series. It’s just too bad that the Yankees were so damn good that they swept the St. Louis Cardinals that year. Otherwise who knows how many home runs Gehrig might have hit.
So we’re one game into the 2011 World Series and if history has taught us anything is that even with one game in the books we still have a chance to see this record fall. Is it possible? Sure it is. But I don’t think it will, not this year. Mike Napoli has one homer through one game. He needs to hit four more just to tie, so barring he goes deep twice in a game, I’d say it’s highly unlikely. Although a guy like Albert Pujols who is a beast at the plate very well could go deep three times in one game and yard twice in another. I’d love to see it happen, after all, October is when legends are made right?
Topics: AL East, Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Billy Martin, Boston Red Sox, Chase Utley, LA Dodgers, Mike Napoli, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Reggie Jackson, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Tommy Lasorda