The Longest Home Runs in MLB History

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2017

The Longest Home Runs in MLB History

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    Mark McGwire made a living socking dingers for the St. Louis Cardinals.
    Mark McGwire made a living socking dingers for the St. Louis Cardinals.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Hitting a baseball hundreds of feet is incredibly hard. Accurately measuring those moonshots isn't much easier.

    After Giancarlo Stanton decimated a baseball during the World Baseball Classic, MLB Network informed viewers that the hulking outfielder torpedoed the ball 424 feet at an exit velocity of 117.3 miles per hour. Statcast data, however, is still a relatively new tool.

    ESPN's Home Run Tracker has also studied long balls since 2006, giving fans a better sense of how homers travel. Decades before these modern advances, historians were left to make questionable estimations or even use an actual tape measure.

    So take any urban legends about someone's 600-foot homer with a grain of salt. As a result, no assortment of baseball's longest blasts can be considered 100 percent credible. With no concrete numbers for anything before 2006, evaluating all-time distances remains an inexact science.

    But why argue over semantics when we can watch some of MLB's best sluggers sock a few dingers? Using the best information available, let's take a stab at locating the longest recorded home runs ever.

Honorable Mentions

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    Whether because of overinflated estimations or technical questions of eligibility for a list of MLB home runs, these notable exceptions missed the cut:

             

    Joey Meyer, 582 Feet (1987)

    Joey Meyer, a minor league first baseman for the Denver Zephyrs, hit a long ball on June 3, 1987, which reportedly went a staggering 582 feet. He made the majors the next season but lasted just 156 games with the Milwaukee Brewers.

               

    Josh Gibson, 580 Feet (1937)

    There's no video evidence or official measurement of his monumental feat, but Negro League star Josh Gibson allegedly smacked a home run 580 feet out of Yankee Stadium on June 3, 1937. This would put him in the feasible discussion for the longest round-tripper ever.

    Mark McGwire, 487 Feet (1998)

    Mark McGwire's monster home run on May 16, 1998, probably didn't travel 545 feet, as initially estimated. ESPN's Home Run Tracker docked his true distance down to 487. It was one of five home runs Baseball Almanac listed as going at least 500 feet in 1998's record-setting season.

    Andres Galarraga, 468 Feet (1997)

    On May 31, 1997, Andres Galarraga cleared the full bases by sending a souvenir into Pro Player Stadium's empty upper deck. Although the blast was touted at 529 feet, ESPN arrived at 468 feet. Slate's John Pastier calculated a similar distance of roughly 479 feet. 

             

    Jose Canseco, 443 Feet (1989)

    Jose Canseco's upper-deck blast helped the Oakland Athletics defeat the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1989 American League Championship Series. It did not, however, journey 540 feet as have some suggested. ESPN's Home Run Tracker yielded a projected true distance of 443 feet.

15. Mike Piazza, 496 Feet (1997)

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    According to Statcast, someone soon to follow topped Mike Piazza's 496-foot homer from Sept. 26, 1997, as the longest home run in Coors Field history. But not so fast.

    ESPN's Home Run Tracker tells a different story, calculating the final distance of Piazza's slam at 515 feet. 

    "The Rockies credited Piazza with a 496-foot home run, but their procedure for measuring home runs at the time did not attempt to include the additional distance the ball would have flown had it not landed on the concourse," ESPN's blurb said in defense of its enhanced projection. "ESPN's Stats & Info Group marks the landing point at 496 feet from home plate and 26 feet above field level."

    Eye tests lead to a wide array of biases, but the video evidence helps his case.

    This writer trusts the newer, in-depth data (Statcast) over a ballpark number given without much supporting evidence, so Piazza makes the cut over other tape-measure hits reported at greater distances.

14. Glenallen Hill, 500 Feet (2000)

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    This list includes icons, Hall and Famers and rakers who wielded unquestionably elite power. Yet near the top sits a journeyman who belted 186 home runs over a career devoid of regular playing time.

    In his penultimate 2000 season, Glenallen Hill registered a career-high 27 home runs for the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. As ESPN's Home Run Tracker verifies, one moonshot on May 11, 2000, went 500 feet with a 116.7 mph exit velocity.

    The ball soared out of Wrigley Field and landed on the rooftop of a building across the street.

    Two months later, the Cubs traded him to the Yankees, where he put together the best stint of his career. Over 40 scorching-hot games, Hill hit .333/.378/.735 with 16 homers for the eventual World Series champions.

T12. Cecil Fielder, 502 Feet (1991)

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    From 1990 to 1991, Cecil Fielder accrued an MLB-best 95 home runs, including a soaring shot onto the Tiger Stadium roof in 1990. The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, via MLB.com's Mike Bertha, marveled at the power display.

    "The ball assumed what can only be called a majestic arc and landed on the left-field roof in Tiger Stadium," Ryan wrote. "An inning or so later, they told us it was charted at 484 feet. I would have believed 1,484 feet."

    Oh yeah, that's not even Fielder's entry. Instead, let's look back to September 14, 1991, when the Detroit Tigers slugger pounded a ball beyond Milwaukee County Stadium's bleachers. 

    Eleven years before the Milwaukee Brewers drafted his son, Prince, they watched Fielder punish a baseball. Historian William J. Jenkinson reported the home run's distance at 502 feet—the longest estimate from IBM's measuring system from 1982 to 1996—in a study published by Baseball Almanac.

T12. Ted Williams, 502 Feet (1946)

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    Peter J. Carroll/Associated Press

    When researchers delve into an older home run for a more accurate telling, they typically spoil everyone's party by deflating an embellished tale. In this case, however, initial estimates appeared to have sold Ted Williams short.

    The legendary hitter took Fred Hutchinson yard on June 9, 1946, for a dinger deemed to have traveled 502 feet. Not bad at all, but ESPN's Home Run Tracker determined that Williams deserves even more credit.

    According to ESPN's findings, the ball landed on a fan's straw hat deep in the right field bleachers. The ball would have kept going, lending to a final true-distance calculation of 530 feet.

    "Examination of satellite and ground-based digital photos suggests that the 502-foot figure is an accurate measurement of the horizontal distance to the 'Red Seat,' but since the impact point was approximately 30 feet above field level, the ball would have covered more distance before landing at field level, had its flight not been interrupted."

    With apologies to those whose over-reported shots were downgraded or removed, bumping up a career .344/.482/.634 legend feels warranted.

T10. Adam Dunn, 504 Feet (2008)

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    Adam Dunn played just 44 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but one of his eight home runs stands as the longest witnessed at Chase Field.

    On Sept. 27, 2008, the slugger secured his fifth season with 40 deep flies. This blast off Glendon Rusch caromed off the center field awning for an estimated 504 feet.

    ESPN Home Run Tracker measured it as the longest shot since providing full data in 2008. It's also not the last time the three-true-outcomes prototype appears on this list.

T10. Giancarlo Stanton, 504 Feet (2016)

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    Few thoughts will terrify a pitcher more than Giancarlo Stanton lurking inside a Coors Field batter's box. While the Miami Marlins slugger doesn't need a ballpark's help to punish a baseball, he collaborated with the high-altitude venue to produce a 504-foot homer on Aug. 6, 2016.

    As MLB.com's Ben Weinrib noted, the blast marked the longest homer since MLB installed Statcast in all stadiums in 2015. The new system pinpointed a 115.8-mph exit velocity with a launch angle of 18.3 degrees.

    "I think we like seeing it fly like that, especially if it's our guys hitting it," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told Weinrib. "Balls with that trajectory, for a lot of guys it doesn't go out. He hits balls that just keep carrying. He hits them a long way."

    For everyone's entertainment, Miami should loan Stanton to Colorado and see how much damage he could inflict during a full season at Coors.

9. Mo Vaughn, 505 Feet (2002)

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    New York Mets fans don't hold many fond memories of Mo Vaughn. 

    Acquired from the then-Anaheim Angels in 2001, the 1995 American League MVP spent his entire first season with the Mets sidelined before returning a shell of himself in 2002. While he hit .190/.323/.329 during 2003's sad swan song, the burly first baseman at least cleared the fences 26 times in 2002.

    The best of those bombs occurred June 26, when he smacked one off Shea Stadium's scoreboard.

    "Watch that splash on the scoreboard," Keith Hernandez said during his earlier years as a Mets broadcaster. "It looks like beer's coming down."

    The park estimated his powerful swing at 505 feet, making it one of the longest homers to invite a Big Apple rising.

8. Jim Thome, 511 Feet (1999)

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    One of baseball's most unheralded sluggers, Jim Thome retired with the quietest 612 home runs and .956 OPS ever. On July 3, 1999, the Cleveland Indians star sent a ball screaming an estimated 511 feet.

    The casual fan might not fully appreciate the modest masher, who becomes eligible for Hall of Fame consideration next year. Cleveland, however, commemorated Thome's blast in 2014 by placing a statue of the franchise's all-time homer leader near the landing sight of Progressive Field's longest home run.

    "I don't think anyone could ever be comfortable getting a statue, I mean that respectfully," Thome said during the unveiling ceremony, per Cleveland.com's Joey Morona. "You play the game as a kid, you progress through high school, you get drafted, you go through the minor leagues. Nobody ever dreams of a statue, I certainly didn't."

    There's a lesson for all the kids hoping to leave behind a lasting legacy: Stay humble, work hard and hit dingers.

7. Darryl Strawberry, 525 Feet (1988)

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    Before getting benched for Homer Simpson, Darryl Strawberry tested Olympic Stadium's limits by sending a souvenir into the lights.

    Not knowing where the ball landed on April 4, 1988, the Mets outfielder stopped at second before receiving clearance to finish rounding the bases. As reported by the New York Times' Joseph Durso, physics professor Bob Moore said the ball would have carried 525 feet if not for hitting the lights.

    "You can feel the wind blowing," Expos right fielder Hubie Brooks said, per Durso's report. "Straw hit it so far and so high that I just stood and watched."

    Strawberry hit another dinger during New York's Opening Day victory and matched his previous season's career high with 39 homers that year. Off-field problems derailed his path to superstardom, but his Montreal moonshot serves as a reminder of his off-the-charts power.

6. Dave Kingman, 530 Feet (1976)

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    Dave Kingman hit one entirely out of Wrigley Field on April 14, 1976. That much is known. The exact distance, however, remains disputed.

    According to William Jenkinson, researchers estimated the fabled fly ball at 573 feet, and the New York Times originally reported a 630-foot flight. Jenkinson's findings serve as the basis for the used mark of 530 feet.

    "It has been confirmed that the ball struck against the third house beyond Waveland Avenue, which is situated about 530 feet from home plate," Jenkinson wrote. "Yet again, we have an example of a genuinely epic home run that has been grievously overstated."

    Richard Keiber, a collector who obtained Kingman's moonshot outside of Wrigley Field, insisted to the Chicago Tribune's Rick Talley in 2003 that 600 feet was a more accurate tally. Either way, everyone can agree he hit the ball very far.

T4. Adam Dunn, 535 Feet (2004)

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    Without a closer look from ESPN at this Adam Dunn dinger, the lofty 535-foot approximation receives the benefit of the doubt. For what it's worth, it passes the "Wow, he sure hit that ball a long way" eye test.

    The left-handed raker quickly set a gaudy benchmark during Great American Ball Park's second season on Aug. 10, 2004, when he crushed a Jose Lima offering well beyond the fence in center field, which stands 404 feet out. 

    "I was sitting on a changeup, because he only threw like 88," Dunn recalled to Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans a year later. "I know if he throws that changeup, he'll make me look like an ass, because he had such a good one, if you don't sell out to it. Just so happened it was a heater and I don't know what happened."

    Dunn finished the season with a career-high 46 long balls. Few sluggers were stronger in their prime, making him one of baseball's most feared batters despite his strikeout woes.

T4. Willie Stargell, 535 Feet (1978)

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    Rich Pilling/Getty Images

    Willie Stargell scorched plenty of moonshots over his career. According to Allied News’ Jim Sankey, via MLB.com’s Matt Monagan, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder submitted seven of 18 balls to clear Forbes Field’s 86-foot high roof in right field.

    The grandest account of his power? A hearty hack on May 20, 1978 which went further than any ball ever hit at Montreal Stadium. Per National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Matt Kelly, it went an estimated 535 feet.

    Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton marveled at Stargell’s homer hit against his Los Angeles Dodgers.

    “I never saw anything like it,” Sutton said, per Kelly. “He doesn't just hit pitchers, he takes away their dignity.”

    This wasn’t even peak Stargell. He was 38 years old in his 16th season, but he still went yard 28 times over 450 plate appearances and earned a .567 slugging percentage. The following year, his five postseason home runs led the Pirates to a World Series championship.

3. Reggie Jackson, 539 Feet (1971)

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    While there's no definitive list of longest All-Star Game home runs, it's safe to say Reggie Jackson's 1971 blast would top it.

    The Oakland Athletics outfielder stepped up to the plate against Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Dock Ellis, who according to Baseball-Reference.com entered the Midsummer Classic sporting a 2.11 ERA. He had yielded just four homers during the first half, but Jackson took him deep for an unofficial fifth.

    If not for hitting a transformer on Tiger Stadium's roof, the baseball would have experienced a further journey. On a ball that sped 124 mph off the bat, ESPN's Home Run Tracker estimated a distance of 539 feet if unhindered.

    Mr. October receives the benefit of the doubt for his July feat, but watch the ball rocket off his bat. The roof might have stopped it from clearing Detroit altogether.

2. Mickey Mantle, 565 Feet (1953)

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    Urban legends of Mickey Mantle's power prowess have run wild. Initial estimates credited him with hitting a 656-foot bomb in college, a mark outlandish even for an MLB star using performance-enhancing drugs. 

    Yet the story of his 565-foot moonshot still lives strong.

    The date: April 17, 1953. The place: Washington's Griffith Stadium. The poor sap who fed the Hall of Fame outfielder a gopher ball: Chuck Stobbs.

    MLB Network's Bob Costas credits it above as the Guinness Book of World Records holder for longest home run. He also, however, said the team's PR director literally derived that number by using a tape measure, originating the term to describe huge homers now measured through more scientific methods.

    While ESPN didn't dare to debunk this legend, it studied another home run against the Kansas City Royals on May 22, 1963. Although it came nowhere close to 734 feet, ESPN determined an impressive true distance of 503 feet.

    Maybe Mantle didn't quite hit it 565 feet—William Jenkinson suggested 510 feet as a better approximation. There's still no doubting Mantle's standing as one of the greatest, strongest hitters to ever live.

1. Babe Ruth, 575 Feet (1921)

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    Associated Press

    Although there are multiple tales of Babe Ruth's hitting his mythical home run beyond 600 feet, no accurate measuring tools existed during his playing days. It's foolish to take hearsay as concrete evidence, but it's also difficult to believe the man who hit 714 home runs during the dead-ball era wasn't capable of abnormal results.

    William Jenkinson, who credited Ruth with setting distance high marks in every MLB ballpark, wrote the Yankees icon "defies rational analysis":

    Amazingly, many of those records remain unequaled, which is to say that Ruth is a true athletic anachronism. In virtually every other field of endeavor in which physical performance can be measured, there are no Ruthian equivalents. In 1921 alone, which was Ruth's best tape measure season, he hit at least one 500 foot home run in all eight American League cities. There should be no doubt about the authentication of these conclusions. Despite the scarcity of film on Ruth, we can still make definitive evaluations of the approximate landing points of all of his 714 career home runs.

    As Sports Illustrated's Cliff Corcoran noted, Jenkinson also acknowledged The Bambino as owner of the three longest home runs ever hit in his book The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs. A 575-foot dinger at Navin Field in Detroit isn't the most interesting of the tales, but it'd top this list.

    The noted historian also backed ancient anecdotes of the Sultan of Swat's hitting one over 600 feet at Wilkes University's Artillery Park in 1926. Skeptics will certainly be forgiven for doubting that distance, but others will prefer to simply believe.

              

    Note: All videos courtesy of MLB.com