The Single-Season Home Run Kings

Ruth, Maris, McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds, 2d ed.

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About the Book

After Babe Ruth erased Buck Freeman’s record in 1919, the new mark stood for 34 years before Maris bettered it, defying as he did an incredulous sporting public. And just as fans’ anger grew old and Maris was grudgingly credited—or discredited—with an unrepeatable hot streak, along came Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, two goliaths who in 1998 and the years just after proved fans wrong again. But when in 2001, only three years after McGwire seemed to put the record beyond reach, Barry Bonds topped him by three. This time fans were staunch in their disbelief, and while many celebrated Bonds’ achievement, others questioned its significance.
This revised edition of Bill McNeil’s Ruth, Maris, McGwire, and Sosa (“libraries especially will want this”—Library Journal) reviews the careers of each home run titan, with special attention to the record-breaking seasons. The cultural and social changes that may have affected both the players’ season totals and fan reception are also considered.

About the Author(s)

William F. McNeil is a longtime baseball historian and the author of numerous books on the game. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), he is the recipient of five Robert Peterson awards for increasing the public’s awareness of the Negro Leagues. He lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

William F. McNeil
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 262
Bibliographic Info: photos, tables, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1441-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8128-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      xi

PART ONE : THE TEXT

1. The Evolution of the Home Run      3

2. Babe Ruth—The Early Years      10

3. Babe Ruth—A Hero Emerges      22

4. The 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s—An Historical Perspective      38

5. Roger Maris—The Early Years      45

6. Roger Maris—Home Run Champion      56

7. The 1960s to the 1990s—An Historical Perspective      71

8. Sammy Sosa—The Early Years      76

9. Mark McGwire—The Early Years      90

10. The Great Home Run Race of 1998      105

11. The Home Run War Continues      124

12. Barry Bonds—The Early Years      130

13. Barry Bonds—The Home Run King      161

14. The Champions—Side by Side      189

PART TWO : THE STATISTICS

1. Playing Statistics      207

2. Side by Side Comparisons      210

3. Home Run Statistics      212

4. Homer by Homer Comparisons      215

5. Babe Ruth in 1927      217

6. Roger Maris in 1961      219

7. Mark McGwire in 1998      221

8. Sammy Sosa in 1998      223

9. Barry Bonds in 2001      225

10. Major League Park Field Dimensions      227

11. Home Run Factors      230

12. Top Home Run Seasons, per At-Bat      234

13. Top Home Run Careers, per At-Bat      235

Bibliography      237

Index      241

Book Reviews & Awards

“the four combatants are studied side-by-side, comparing the various cultural and social conditions and changes in the game that may have affected each player’s home run totals”—The SABR Bulletin; “unique and interesting facts”—Sports Collectors Digest; “Big Mac and Sammy get the biographical treatment in context with fellow 60-HR Club members Roger Maris and the Bambino. Includes statistical studies and comparative essays from the eras of these fence-busting feats”—USA Today Sports Weekly; “[the stories] are well told”—Choice; “compares the 1998 heroics of Sosa and McGwire with Ruth’s 60 and Maris’s 61…extensive statistics and appealing sidelights add to McNeil’s analysis. Sports students and their libraries especially will want this”—Library Journal; “important…underscores the significance of various cultural and social conditions and changes that may have influenced each player’s home run totals”—Public Library Quarterly.