Babe Ruth hits his 30th home run of the season, breaking his own single-season record
Digital Preservation Project
The 29 home runs that Ruth hit in 1919 broke Ned Williamson’s 1884 record of 27. Williamson set his record playing in Lake Park, the Chicago White Stocking’s home field that featured a right field wall just 196-feet from home plate. In contrast, Ruth’s home field was Fenway Park, which was a notoriously difficult home run park during that time. Of his 29 home runs in 1919, only nine came in Boston.
After he was sold to the New York Yankees in late 1919, Ruth’s offensive production increased to 54 home runs in 1920, which marked the beginning of the live-ball era in Major League Baseball.
Ruth’s 54th home run seemed like a nearly insurmountable feat to top at the time, but in 1921, the Sultan of Swat hit 59. Seven years later, he once again beat his own record with 60 home runs as part of the Yankees’ “Murderer’s Row” lineup, which also featured Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri. Ruth’s 60 home runs helped lead the team to the 1927 American League pennant and ultimately a World Series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Though the 1927 season featured Ruth’s top home run output, he would go on to hit more than 40 home runs in each of the next five years. He ended his career after the 1935 season with a record 714 career home runs, not to be broken until April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron launched his 715th home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Al Downing.