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Walk-off home runs
Baseball's ultimate power : ranking the all-time greatest distance home run hitters
Bill Jenkinson.
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, c2010.
The tape-measure home run is the greatest single act of power in the game of baseball, and the tales of these homers are the most cherished legacies players and fans hand down through the generations. Each long-distance shot has become fable; they are baseball's versions of the feats of Paul Bunyon, Hercules, and Samson. No one but Bill Jenkinson could separate myth from fact and actually study, rank, and describe in riveting detail baseball's strongest long-ball hitters. Fully illustrated with player photos and aerial ballpark photos showing the landing spots of each stadium's longest home runs, Baseball's Ultimate Power is the definitive book on the tape-measure home run and its practitioners. Jenkinson travels through the decades to give us the distances, descriptions, and comparisons of the forty longest hitters in major league history, the ten longest-hitting active players, the five mightiest from the nineteenth century, and the five best tape-measure batsmen from the Negro League era.
     
It's outta here! : the history of the home run from Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds
Bill Gutman.
Lanham, Md. : Taylor Trade Pub., 2005.
As Barry Bonds closes in on Hank Aaron's record 755 career home runs in 2005, attention will no doubt be drawn to the deep and colorful history of the "long ball" and its role in the development of major league baseball. Long thought to have changed baseball from the game played during the "dead ball era," Babe Ruth's 60-home-run year in 1927 showed that baseball had come full circle since 1876, when the highest number of home runs by a single player was four in seventy games played. Ruth's record stood for thirty-four years, until Roger Maris bested him by one and established a new season record that many thought to be beyond reach. But as year-round training became more the norm and players' careers extended well into their late thirties, the home runs began to pile up, leading to a period in the late 1990s and early 2000s that saw an explosion of home run records, from Mark McGwire's astounding 70 blasts in 1998 to Bonds's current record of 73, set in 2001.
     
Hank Aaron and the home run that changed America
Tom Stanton.
New York, NY : William Morrow, c2004.
"Baseball has witnessed more than 125,000 major-league home runs. Many have altered the outcomes of games, and some, swatted into the stands on dramatic last swings, have decided pennants and won reputations. But no home run has played a more significant role in influencing American society than Hank Aaron's 715th." "Aaron's historic blast - and the yearlong quest leading up to it - not only shook baseball but the world at large. It exposed prejudice, energized a flagging civil rights movement, inspired a generation of children, and also called forth the dark demons that haunted Aaron's every step and turned what should have been a joyous pursuit into a hellish nightmare. In Hank Aaron and the Home Run That Changed America, Tom Stanton, author of the prize-winning The Final Season, penetrates the burnished myth of Aaron's chase and uncovers the compelling story behind the most consequential athletic achievement of the past fifty years."--BOOK JACKET.
     
Home run
edited by George Plimpton.
San Diego : Harcourt, INC. c2001.
An all-star collection of the best fiction and nonfiction writing about baseball's most exciting moment The game of baseball is full of moments of greatness. But no moment during a game elicits the roar of the crowd as does the hitting of a home run. And, as witnessed during the past few seasons, home-run fever has swept the fans and the players. Now George Plimpton, famed sports amateur and chronicler of the game of baseball-among many other sports-collects the best writing about the moment a home run is hit. From a memoir of Ted Williams's 1946 All-Star game homer to a fictional visit Babe Ruth made to Lake Wobegon, from Mark McGwire's 69th and 70th home runs to Hank Aaron's pursuit of the Babe's record to Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World," we see the effects on the athletes and the fans of that ineffable moment when wood hits leather and the ball sails out over the stands. This delightful and absorbing collection is the most complete, most authoritative, and most compelling assemblage of home-run writing ever put together. Includes glorious prose by John Updike, Don DeLillo, Roger Angell, Paul Gallico, Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Robert Creamer, Garrison Keillor, Donald Hall, Rick Reilly, and Rick Telander, among others.
     

Few moments in sports are more exciting than a home run, especially when it's a walk-off home run. It lets the hometown baseball fans leave the ballpark savoring the thrill of a last-minute victory.

The phrase likely began as a reference to the pitcher walking off the field with his head down after giving up the winning home run in the bottom of the final inning of the game. Now it is used by sportscasters to describe the home team batter’s success at ending the game with one swing of the bat.

Long after major league careers are finished, players remember their game-ending home runs. For Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski (1960) and Toronto’s Joe Carter (1993) their memorable walk-off home runs resulted in World Series wins for their teams. Some consider Chris Hoiles’ home run in 1996 more memorable. It was a grand slam with two outs, bottom of the ninth inning, and his Baltimore team down by three runs. Fans still talk about it.

Ozzie's unforgettable walk-off

Baseball fan will never forget game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series. Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run won the game for the Cardinals against the Dodgers. The fact that Ozzie’s home run was the first in his career to be hit left-handed added to the excitement.

A walk-off home run is not official until the batter crosses home plate. That fact can prove to be a challenge. In a 1976 American League Championship game, Chris Chambliss had to maneuver around enthusiastic Yankee fans to find home plate. In 1999 when Robin Ventura hit his walk-off home run with the bases loaded, one of the players on base stopped to congratulate him. Officials ruled that neither of them scored. Luckily for Ventura’s team the others that scored were enough for them to win with a final score of 4-3.

A walk-off home run is more than a baseball phrase. Talk to fans who were in the ball park when their team hit one--they will call it sports drama at its best.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff