When Jim Thome hit a pinch-hit home run for the Phillies earlier this year, he broke the record for walk-off home runs in a career with 13. Thome had been tied with five Hall of Famers — Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Mickey Mantle — before his record-setting blast.
Mantle actually had 13 walk-offs if you count his ninth inning, upper deck home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 1964 World Series (all-time MLB records apply to regular-season games only). Of Ruth’s dozen walk-offs, he had 11 as a Yankee and one as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The New York Yankees have hit 210 walk-off home runs in their long and illustrious history, the first by Wee Willie Keeler in 1905 as the then-named Highlanders beat the Washington Senators. Here are the Yankee walk-off kings.
Mickey Mantle (13) — Outside of the World Series winner, Mantle’s most famous walk-off occurred on May 22, 1963. That night, batting in the 11th inning against the Kansas City A’s, Mantle belted a ball he later called “the hardest ball I think I ever hit.” The ball was still rising when it struck the facade above the upper deck in right field at Yankee Stadium, 118 feet high and 370 feet from home plate. Some estimates say the ball might have traveled 600 feet or more.
Babe Ruth (11) — The Babe hit more memorable home runs throughout his career than anyone. His signature walk-off occurred on September 24, 1925. With one out in the bottom of the 11th inning and the bases loaded, he hit a grand slam to beat the Chicago White Sox, 6-5. Ruth also hit a walk-off home run for the Boston Red Sox early in his career.
Yogi Berra (7) — Three of Berra’s walk-offs came against the Red Sox (1955, 1957, 1958). He victimized Boston hurlers Ellis Kinder, Ike Delock and Willard Nixon respectively.
Alex Rodriguez (6) and Graig Nettles (6) — A-Rod’s highlight was a two-out, ninth inning grand slam that gave the Yankees a 10-7 win over the Orioles early in the 2007 season. Both Rodriguez and Nettles belted extra-inning home runs to beat Boston. A-Rod’s 15th inning blast gave the Yankees a 2-0 win in 2009; Nettles hit a 14th inning walk-off to give the Yankees a 6-4 win in 1978.
Bernie Williams (5) — Bernie is the only player in MLB history with two walk-off home runs in the playoffs. Bernie went boom against the Orioles in the 11th in 1996, and three years later repeated the feat against the Red Sox. Both homers occurred in the first game of the ALCS, and both times the Yankees went on to capture the pennant and World Series..
7. Joe DiMaggio (4), Tommy Henrich (4), Reggie Jackson (4), Chris Chambliss (4) — DiMaggio hit a three-run blast to beat the St. Louis Browns, 15-12, in 1938. Henrich hit three of his four walk-offs in 1949, including the first in World Series history to defeat Don New Newcombe and the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game One of the 1949 World Series. Reggie’s most memorable walk-off was a two-out, ninth inning blast to beat the Red Sox, 2-0, in a key September 1977 game. Chambliss hit the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth for the home run that gave the Yankees the 1976 pennant against the Kansas City Royals.
BTW: Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller, Joe Collins, Tom Tresh. Oscar Gamble, Mel Hall and Jason Giambi each hit three walk-off home runs for the Yanks. Roger Maris, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, and Tony Lazzeri were among those tied with two.
Claudell Washington hit a two-run homer to beat the Tigers in the 18th inning of a September, 1988, contest. It ranks as the latest walk-off home run in Yankee history. Two nights earlier, Washington victimized the Tigers with a ninth-inning walk-off homer.
Walk-off grand slams: Babe Ruth (1925), Red Ruffing (1933), Charlie Keller (1942), Joe Pepitone (1969), Ruppert Jones (1980), Mike Pagliarulo (1987), Jason Giambi (2002) and Alex Rodriguez (2007)
Catcher Russell Martin hit the Yankees' most recent walk-off, a leadoff shot to beat the crosstown rival Mets 5-4 in June.