Hitting Homers at Home and on the Road

This article was written by John C. Tattersall

This article was published in the 1976 Baseball Research Journal


There still is one career home run record that Henry Aaron has not taken from Babe Ruth, but probably not for long! That is most home runs hit on the road. Ruth hit 367 and Aaron, going into the 1976 season, is right on his heels with 366. Aaron, of course, leads with most roundtrippers hit at home, 379, and this means Milwaukee On both leagues) and Atlanta.

Quite surprisingly, the Babe hit more fourbaggers on the road, 367, than he hit at home, 347. This is true even though he played most of his games in Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds, two parks favorably inclined to lefthand pull hitters. Mel Ott, for example, hit 323 or 63% of his 511 homers in the Polo Grounds. Bill Dickey hit 135 or 67% of his 202 homers at Yankee Stadium.

With the primary exception of Ott, most of the career home run leaders divided their boundary belts pretty evenly at home and away. Mickey Mantle, for example, finished almost even with 266 at home and 270 away. Of course, he was switch hitter, which tended to moderate some of the obvious factors concerning park design. On the other hand, Lou Gehrig batted exclusively lefthanded and Harmon Killebrew righthanded, and their home and road homers were pretty evenly balanced. Here are the career leaders.

 

 

Home

Road

H.Pct.

Henry Aaron

379

366

51%

Babe Ruth

347

367

48%

Willie Mays

335

325

51%

Frank Robinson

320

263

55%

Harm Killebrew

290

283

51%

Mickey Mantle

266

270

49%

Jimmie Foxx

298

236

56%

Ted Williams

248

273

47%

Eddie Mathews

238

274

46%

Ernie Banks

290

222

57%

Melvin Ott

323

188

63%

Lou Gehrig

254

239

51%

Stan Musial

252

223

53%

Willie McCovey

241

217

53%

 

Some of the players since 1900 who hit fewer homers had more extreme ratios of home and away fourbaggers. Cliff Cravath, for example, hit 78% of his 119 homers at home, mostly in Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl. On the other hand, Gil McDougald of the Yankees hit only 26% of his 112 roundtrippers at Yankee Stadium.

Considering only those players who hit more than 150 home runs -which is a little more substantial basis for judging the genuine power hitter-we find the player who liked his home park best was Ken Williams. Playing most of his games for the Browns at Sportsmans Park, he hit 72% of his 196 homers at home. During the 1922 season, 32 of his league-leading 39 blasts were hit there.

Next came Bill Dickey, whom we have already mentioned, at 67%, followed by Cy Williams and Bobby Doerr. Chuck Klein, kept out of the Hall of Fame primarily because he played most of his home games at Baker Bowl, was next with 64%. Ron Santo had the same home park percentage.

The player who had the most difficulty connecting in his home park was Elston Howard, who was limited to only 32%, primarily at Yankee Stadium. Joe DiMaggio, who also batted righthanded, hit 41% of his homers in that park. Mickey Vernon and Goose Goslin also had reduced numbers at home, but they played in spacious Griffith Stadium for much of their careers and that place was tough on southpaw swingers. In fact it was tough for any batter. In 1945 only one home run was hit by a Senator at home the entire season and it was an inside-

the-park job by Joe Kuhel. Kuhel, incidentally, was a prime example of a player who saw his home run totals reduced because he played all his home games either in Griffith Stadium or Comiskey Park. He hit 1/3 of his 131 homers at home and 2/3 on the road.

There were some players so unaffected by the parks they played in, that they hit exactly the same number of home runs at home and on the road. Chief among these was Wally Berger who evened out with 121 and 121.

Listed below are the players with more than 150 homers in their careers who did best at home, those who did best on the road, and those who came out about even.

 

HOME RUNS – Players with High Home Park Percentage 

Home Run Hitter

Home

Road

H.Pct.

Primary Home Park

Ken Williams, L

142

54

72%

Sportsmans Park

Bill Dickey, L

135

67

67%

Yankee Stadium

Cy Williams, L

167

84

66%

Baker Bowl

Bobby Doerr, R

145

78

65%

Fenway Park

Chuck Klein, L

191

109

64%

Baker Bowl

Ron Santo, R

217

125

64%

Wrigley Field

Melvin Ott, L

323

188

63%

Polo Grounds

R. Petrocelli, R

130

77

63%

Fenway Park

Ed Bailey, L

95

60

61%

Crosley Field

Hank Greenberg, R

204

127

61%

Briggs Stadium

Jim Lemon, R

100

64

61%

Griffith Stadium

Earl Averill, R

145

93

61%

League Park

 

Players with Low Home Park Percentage

Home Run Hitter

Home

Road

H.Pct.

Primary Home Park

Elston Howard, R

54

113

32%

Yankee Stadium

Mickey Vernon, L

57

115

33%

Griffith Stadium

Don Clendenon, R

58

101

36%

Forbes Field

Bob Elliott, R

63

107

37%

Braves Field

Goose Goslin, L

92

156

37%

Griffith Stadium

Willie Davis, L

69

108

39%

Dodger Stadium

Ken Keitner, R

63

100

39%

Clev. Mun. Std.

Joe Adcock, R

137

199

41%

Mil. County Std.

Joe DiMaggio, R

148

213

41%

Yankee Stadium

Bill Nicholson, L

99

136

42%

Wrigley Field

 

Players with Even Home-Road Percentages

Home Run Hitter

Home

Road

H.Pct.

Primary Home Park

Wally Berger, R

121

121

50%

Braves Field

Jeff Heath, L

97

97

50%

Several

Willie Jones, R

95

95

50%

Connie Mack Std.

Chas. Gehringer, L

92

92

50%

Briggs Stadium

VicWertz, L

134

132

51%

Several

Gabby Hartnett, R

119

117

51%

Wrigley Field

Dick Stuart, L

115

113

51%

Several

Mickey Mantle, S

266

270

49%

Yankee Stadium

Reggie Jackson, L

126

128

49%

Oakland Stadium

Harlond Clift, R

88

90

49%

Sportsmans Park

 

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