Home runs are fun! They're even more fun when they go a long, long way. The old Yankee Stadium saw some fantastic drives fly off the bats during its long history, though due to technological limitations, it took until the era of the remodeled Yankee Stadium before many of those dingers were immortalized on film. As a result, there is regrettably not much video to work with in order to locate the famous blasts by immortals like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. (If someone has footage of the Mantle homer that hit the facade in May 1963, please, for the love of all that is sacred, step forward.) However, we do have access to more modern videos of titanic homers, and they produced some pretty great GIFs. Enjoy.
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie
One of the first colossal homers at the remodeled Yankee Stadium, Reggie's final blast of his unforgettable three-homer clincher was one of the longest (if not the longest) ever hit into "the black," the batter's eye seats in straightaway center field. Charlie Hough would be the first to say that bad knucklers will do that. The final distance was unclear but some measurements had it as far as 475 feet. I'd believe it.
A Monumental blast
Thurman Munson wasn't known for his homers, but in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS against the Royals, he belted an enormous home run that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead in the eighth. Not many homers went all the way to Monument Park (a good 460 feet away), but Munson made it.
George Brett had a habit of slugging memorable homers at Yankee Stadium in the late innings games, from his game-tying homer in Game 5 of the '76 ALCS to the Pine Tar Game. This one was probably the most important one of all, as his sky-high homer off Goose Gossage set the Royals up to sweep the Yankees in the 1980 ALCS, exacting vengeance for Kansas City's ALCS losses to the Yankees from 1976-78.
A somewhat-forgotten upper deck shot, young Fred McGriff didn't take long to prove to the team that drafted that they made a horrible mistake trading him away for the underachieving Dale Murray in 1982. In just his second season, the 23-year-old went deep in Toronto's 11-0 blowout of Rick Rhoden and the Yankees on June 8, 1987. The ball went so far that it hit the back wall of the entrance halfway up the upper deck.
Don Mattingly sent many a long drive to the upper deck during his 14 years in pinstripes. 1987 was a big year for Donnie Baseball, as he tied the MLB record for consecutive games with a homer (eight) and set a record with six grand slams (oddly enough, the only slams of his career). His sixth and final slam on September 29th against Bruce Hurst landed high up in the upper deck.
In the peak of his juicing days, Jose Canseco hit some tremendous drives, including a trip to the fifth deck at Toronto's Rogers Centre (then Skydome). Against Scott Nielsen in the ninth inning of a 4-2 game on August 24, 1988 (the MVP 40/40 season), Canseco seemingly put the game out of hand with a majestic shot into the upper deck in left field. Not many homers went there. (I'm almost positive that both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez did at some point, but I unfortunately could not find video.)
There's a happy ending to this story though, as the Yankees stunned Dennis Eckersley and his bullpen teammates in the ninth with a game-winning five-run rally. Ken Phelps even hit a three-run homer! Still wasn't worth trading Jay Buhner though. (Buhner hit some monstrous shots at Yankee Stadium too, like one that landed in the ambulance bay in left-center field, but sadly they are not currently on available video.)
If only Bo Jackson never played football. If only. Bo had awesome power, as he hit 141 career homers in just 694 career games. During a three-homer game against Andy Hawkins on July 17, 1990, he went opposite field and still somehow went where few players had ever hit homers in Yankee Stadium. Bo knew power.
The Bull to the Black
Although Danny Tartabull's Yankees tenure is not fondly remembered, his years prior to '95 were better. He hit 81 homers during his four years in the Bronx and even reached "the black" with a go-ahead homer on May 8, 1994 against the Red Sox and future Yankee Paul Quantrill. The dinger kicked off a rally of three homers in a row, as Mike Stanley and Gerald Williams followed suit and led the Yankees to an 8-4 victory.
Big Mac Land in the Bronx
If David Robertson does indeed ascend to the closer's role in 2014 as he should, remember this homer. Mariano Rivera was made the closer in 1997 despite having minimal closing experience, and he had a rocky start to his closing career. He blew three of his first six saves and had a 4.00 ERA after seven games. On Opening Day 1997, the Yankees led the Athletics 1-0 thanks to seven brilliant shutout innings from David Cone. Rivera entered for the ninth, and powerful Mark McGwire destroyed his very first pitch, sending it all the way to "the black." The game was tied and the Yankees went on to lose 3-1.
Even Mo struggled in his early days. If D-Rob does the same, do not, for all that is holy, call for his head or a demotion.
Oh right, you were a Yankee too
The Yankees accidentally ended up with the crazy Canseco when they put a waiver claim on him in August 2000 to block him from going to their playoff rivals. It was a weird and mostly inactive couple months for Canseco, who actually turned out to be a decent acquisition (six homers and a 103 OPS+ in 37 games). His first homer in pinstripes on August 10th was a monster shot against Mark Mulder and his old A's team; it hit the facing of the rarely-visited upper deck in left field, a dinger that brought back memories of his aforementioned '88 blast. Thoughts, Jose?
i also talk about time travel. is it possible? yes. i have done it.— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) April 25, 2013
Oof. During the entire 32-year history of the remodeled Yankee Stadium, Encarnacion was the only hitter to ever hit the bleachers beyond Monument Park in left-center field. He... would not have been my first guess.
Barry Bonds happened
Fool me once...
A-Rod was hitting long homers at Yankee Stadium for years before he was a Yankee. He reached "the black" as a 21-year-old in '96, and more famously, he destroyed an Orlando Hernandez eephus pitch on August 26, 2002. El Duque experimented with the pitch during the '02 season and usually managed to make hitters' knees buckle. The pitch prior to this homer, he froze A-Rod with an eephus, then challenged him again with it, as Rip Sewell did to Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game. The Splendid Splinter made Sewell pay for it, and 56 years later, A-Rod did the same to El Duque.
Three years later, A-Rod joined the Yankees and kicked off an MVP season in 2005 with one of the greatest offensive displays in Yankees history on April 26th against the Angels and Bartolo Colon. He went deep three times and notched 10 RBI, the most by any Yankee in 69 years. None of of his homers were cheapies.
The other upper deck
Jorgie juiced one wayyyy back to left field against the Orioles and Bruce Chen on September 22, 2005. It was a multi-homer day for Posada, which was not too surprising from him, but it was one of only a handful of dingers to reach the left field upper deck.
Dark times for Cliff Lee
A-Rod's blast to the ambulance bay against the Rangers in 2005 is not available, but this monster shot against Cliff Lee in 2006 is! Huzzah.
The Hamilton Show
The last of the great Yankee Stadium homers, Josh Hamilton electrified the Yankee Stadium crowd during the Home Run Derby on July 14, 2008. He set a single-round record with 28 homers, including the two above that went a long, long way. One hit the back wall beyond the bleachers in right-center field, and the other went 518 feet, far away in the left-most side of the right field upper deck. I was lucky enough to be there, and even though it was just the Home Run Derby, it remains one of my favorite baseball memories.
I still miss the old place.
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