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This Day in Yankees History: Babe Ruth Blasts #600- August 21, 1931

Despite what this statue might have you believe, I'm informed that Babe Ruth was not, in fact, made of wax.
Despite what this statue might have you believe, I'm informed that Babe Ruth was not, in fact, made of wax.

Babe Ruth was unlike any player Major League Baseball had ever seen before. He introduced power to a game that predominantly starred pitching, bunting, and baserunning. During the process, he became the game's leading home run hitter very early in his career, passing the 19th century New York Giants star Roger Connor with his 139th career homer at age 26 on July 18, 1921. This accelerated pace made the all-time home run standings look ridiculous as Ruth became the first player to ever hit 200, 300, 400, and 500 home runs. Even as the game around him was evolving as well and more power hitters starred in the league, Ruth was head and shoulders above his contemporaries.

By 1931, ten years had passed since Ruth set the all-time home run record, and he was still going strong, although it was the last season in which Ruth led the American League in home runs. He hit 46 homers to win the home run crown for the sixth consecutive season and his 12th crown in 14 years. In the process, the Bambino passed another milestone with his 600th career home run. He had 598 career homers entering a mid-August series at Sportsman's Park against the lowly St. Louis Browns. On August 20th, Ruth drew closer with a ninth-inning grand slam against Wally Hebert, his 34th homer of '31. The very next day, beleaguered Browns starter George Blaeholder pitched for the Browns. The righthander allowed five homers to Ruth in his career, and one of these clouts would occur that day.

The Yankees had a 1-0 lead entering the third inning, when Blaeholder put two runners on for the ever-dangerous "Sultan of Swat." Ruth crushed a poorly-placed pitch high in the air, soaring far from home plate. By the time the ball came down, it had flown over the bleacher roof and crashed down onto a car parked on Grand Boulevard for a tape-measure home run. It was fitting that Ruth's 600th homer would be such a monstrous shot. The three-run Ruth homer was followed, of course, by a solo blast from first baseman Lou Gehrig, the 34th of his season and one behind Ruth for the AL lead. The Yankees took a 6-0 lead, and the game ended in an 11-7 victory that only became close because starter Hank Johnson gave up several late runs. Ruth was actually ejected by third base umpire Roy Van Graflan in the seventh inning for barking about a St. Louis homer that he felt hit the left field bleacher wall rather than going into the stands. This incident was likely the only time in major league history when a player was ejected from a game in which he celebrated such an accomplishment, but it was nothing new for the rowdy Ruth.

Afterwards, Ruth wanted to find the young fan who tracked down the 600th home run ball outside the park, announcing to the press "I'd give a $10 bill and a new ball to get that one back." Sure enough, he made that exact exchange with a kid named Tony Gallico. It was truly a different era. At the end of the day, here was how the all-time home run standings looked:

1. Babe Ruth, 600
2. Rogers Hornsby, 293
3. Cy Williams, 251
4. Lou Gehrig, 221
5. Hack Wilson, 205

Even doubling the runner-up Hornsby's total would not have been enough to match the Babe.

Box score. Game recap 1. Game recap 2.