Home Runs Off The Big Train

This article was written by Ray Gonzalez

This article was published in the 1979 Baseball Research Journal


Researchers have compiled the entire home run records of outstanding batters like Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth, listing the park, game, inning, men on base, and opposing pitcher. By that means we know that Rube Walberg was the hurler who Ruth tapped for the most roundtrippers (18), that Warren Spalin was the chief victim of Mays (18), and Don Drysdale of Aaron (17).

This procedure can be reversed by taking an outstanding hurler, such as Walter Johnson, and listing the batters who reached him for home runs. Johnson is a good example, not only because he is considered by many as the all time best hurler, but because his long career stretched from the deadball era to that of the lively ball. There was quite a difference in number of fourbaggers allowed before and after 1920, at least in the American League, and this is reflected in Johnson’s record.

Johnson gave up 97 homers in his total of 5942 innings pitched. This is an outstanding record and only a few long service hurlers who worked exclusively in the dead-ball era had a better ratio of roundtrippers to innings pitched. Eddie Plank, for example, gave up only 41 homers in 4245 innings pitched in the AL 1901-17. In the modern era, on the other hand, Catfish Hunter has given up 359 homers in 3344 innings, and Gaylord Perry 313 homers in 4359 innings through the 1978 season. Perry’s ratio is considered fairly good among active hurlers.

Johnson had two things going for him as a hurler who gave up few homers. For most of his career, he had a blinding fast ball which he threw with a sidearm motion. It was not that easy to pull or to hit in the air with authority. The second thing was that he pitched most of his home games in spacious Griffith Stadium. Nearly one-half of the 40 circuit swats off him in Washington were inside the park. Sam Crawford set the pattern with a long drive to right-center on August 2, 1907, to defeat Johnson in his big league debut.

There were three seasons in which Walter did not give any homers-1908, 1916, and 1919. He pitched 372 innings in 1916 and that is a record number for one season without giving up a roundtripper. In 1909, 1910, and 1915, he gave up only one homer per year and each was an inside the park drive.

Johnson gave up homers to some of baseball’s greatest batters. Included are Sam Crawford (2), Ty Cobb (1), Eddie Collins (2), Frank Baker (5), Tris Speaker (2), George Sisler (2), Al Simmons (4), Lou Gehrig (4), and Babe Ruth who topped the list with ten big blows in 13 years. The one roundtripper by Cobb came on September 22, 1917, in Washington. Walter had fanned the Tiger tyrant in the first inning and made the mistake of laughing at his futile efforts. Cobb came up again in the third and with two on blasted the ball to the wall in right center and beat the relay home. Speaker had batted against Johnson for almost 20 years before he connected for his first homer on August 9, 1926.

Only two players connected off Johnson twice in the same game. Jack Fournier of the White Sox reached the Big Train for boundary belts in the 8th and 10th innings August 31, 1914, to win the game 4-3. Both were inside the park at Griffith Stadium. On August 13, 1926, Lou Gehrig hit two off Johnson, also at Griffith Stadium.

The Big Train gave up only two grand slams. One was to John Tobin of the Browns in St. Louis on August 6, 1922, and the other to Harry Hooper of the White Sox in Chicago on June 16, 1924. On May 30, 1913, Johnson yielded a leadoff homer to Harry Hooper of the Red Sox and that was all that was needed to deal the long suffering Senator hurler one of his many 1-0 defeats.

Johnson was the victim of left-hand batters 64 times and right-hand batters 33 times. In addition to the 40 homers hit off him in Washington, 15 were hit off him in New York, 15 in Philadelphia, 8 in St. Louis, 7 in Detroit and Cleveland, 5 in Chicago, and not one in Boston.

The full list of home runs hit off Johnson follows:

 

Date of Game

Place

 Batter and Club

Inn.

OB

  Comment

 

 

 

 

   

Aug. 2, 1907

Wash.

Sam Crawford, Tigers

8

0

Spoiled WJ debut

June 29, 1909

N.Y.

Ray Demmit, Yankees

7

0

Ruined WJ shutout

July 30, 1910

Phil.

Eddie Collins, A’s

8

2

IPH to LF wall

Apr. 28, 1911

Phil.

Frank Baker, A’s

2

0

First OPH off WJ

May 6, 1911

Wash.

Eddie Collins, A’s

8

0

 

July 1, 1911

Wash.

Frank Baker, A’s

6

1

 

July 9, 1911

Det.

Sam Crawford, Tigers

8

1

 

Aug. 25, 1911

(1) Det.

Ed Lafitte, Tigers

8

0

Opposing hurler

Aug. 29, 1911

Clev.

Ted Easterly, Indians

9

0

Pinch hitter

Sep. 7, 1911

Wash.

John Knight, Yankees

2

1

 

Sep. 23, 1911

Wash.

Joe Jackson, Indians

6

1

WJ lost 6-1

May 8, 1912

Wash.

Harry Lord, White Sox

1

1

 

May 8, 1912

Wash.

Ping Bodie, White Sox

5

1

Two in same game

May 30, 1913

(2) Wash.

Harry Hooper, Red Sox

1

0

Leadoff Hr in 1-0 game

June 2, 1913

(2) Wash.

Frank Baker, A’s

4

0

Beat WJ 4-3

June 14, 1913

Wash.

Ray Schalk, White Sox

5

0

 

June 14, 1913

Wash.

Buck Weaver, White Sox

9

0

Two in same game

June 18, 1913

Wash.

Doc Johnston, Indians

1

0

Leadoff homer

June 25, 1913

Wash.

Frank Baker, A’s

3

2

Nats lost 14-2

July 13, 1913

Clev.

Joe Jackson, Indians

4

1

 

July 21, 1913

Chi.

Hairy Lord, White Sox

4

0

Ruined WJ shutout

Aug. 15, 1913

Det.

Joseph Lake, Tigers

3

0

Opposing hurler

June 18, 1914

Det.

Marty Kavanagh, Tigers

4

0

 

Aug. 31, 1914

Wash.

Jack Fournier, White Sox

8

0

Two IPH beat WJ 4-3

Aug. 31, 1914

Wash.

Jack Fournier, White Sox

10

0

 

Aug. 10, 1915

Wash.

George H. Burns, Tigers

1

1

 

July 5, 1917

(1) N.Y.

Frank Baker, Yankees

13

0

Beat WJ 5-4

July 29, 1917

Clev.

Jack Graney, Indians

5

0

 

Sep. 22, 1917

Wash.

Ty Cobb, Tigers

3

2

IPH to right-center

May 7, 1918

Wash.

Babe Ruth, Red Sox

6

1

Ruined WJ shutout

June 30, 1918

Wash.

Babe Ruth, Red Sox

10

1

Beat WJ 3-1

May 26, 1920

Wash.

Steve O’Neill, Indians

6

0

 

May 31, 1920

(2) N.Y.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

8

1

 

June 8, 1920

StL.

George Sisler, Browns

3

0

Two in same game

June 8, 1920

StL.

Ken Williams, Browns

9

0

 

June 12, 1920

Chi.

Oscar Felsch, White Sox

6

1

 

Apr. 25, 1921

N.Y.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

1

0

 

May 7, 1921

Wash.

Bob Meusel, Yankees

3

1

Two in same game

May 7, 1921

Wash.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

8

0

 

June 25, 1921

N.Y.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

5

1

 

Aug.  8, 1921

Wash.

Luke Stuart, Browns

9

1

Only hit in majors

Aug. 18, 1921

StL.

Bill Jacobson, Browns

5

0

 

Oct.  2, 1921

Wash.

Jimmy Dykes, A’s

6

0

 

May 24, 1922

N.Y.

Bob Meusel, Yankees

2

0

 

Aug.  6, 1922

StL.

John Tobin, Browns

3

3

Grand slam beats WJ

Aug. 29, 1922

N.Y.

Wally Pipp, Yankees

3

0

 

Aug. 29, 1922

N.Y.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

4

0

Two in same game

Sep.  8, 1922

N.Y.

Wally Pipp, Yankees

6

2

 

Sep. 19, 1922

StL.

Ken Williams, Browns

4

0

Two in same game

Sep. 19, 1922

StL.

Pat Collins, Browns

7

0

 

Sep. 23, 1922

Chi.

Johnny Mostil, White Sox

5

1

 

Apr. 18, 1923

Phil.

Jimmy Dykes, A’s

2

1

Beat WJ 3-1

Apr. 22, 1923

N.Y.

Everett Scott, Yankees

8

0

 

May 30, 1923

(1) Wash.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

1

0

 

June  2, 1923

(2) Wash.

Joe Hauser, Phil.

6

0

 

June 12, 1923

Wash.

John Tobin, Browns

1

0

Leadoff hitter

June 15, 1923

Wash.

Bibb Falk, White Sox

7

2

Pinch hitter

June 22, 1923

Phil.

Cy Perkins, A’s

6

0

 

July  4, 1923

(2) N.Y.

Fred Hoffman, Yankees

2

0

 

Aug. 13, 1923

(2) Wash.

Earl Sheely, White Sox

8

1

Beat WJ 3-2

Apr. 20, 1924

Wash.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

8

0

 

Apr. 25, 1924

Phil.

Al Simmons, A’s

6

2

First Simmons Hr

June  2, 1924

Phil.

Joe Hauser, A’s

6

1

 

June 16, 1924

Chi.

Harry Hooper, White Sox

7

3

Second slam off WJ

June 21, 1924

Phil.

Joe Hauser, A’s

1

1

Two in same game

June 21, 1924

Phil.

Al Simmons, A’s

4

0

 

July 20, 1924

Wash.

George Sisler, Browns

1

0

 

Sep.  8, 1924

Phil.

Joe Hauser, A’s

6

0

Two in same game

Sep.  8, 1924

Phil.

Bing Miller, A’s

8

0

 

Sep. 13, 1924

Det.

Emory Rigney, Tigers

7

0

 

Apr. 18, 1925

Phil.

Bill Lamar, A’s

8

1

 

May 6, 1925

Wash.

Phil Todt, Red Sox

9

1

 

May 16, 1925

Clev.

Glenn Myatt, Indians

5

0

 

May 27, 1925

Phil.

Mickey Cochrane, A’s

4

0

Hit into 20th St.

May 28, 1925

(2) Phil.

Bill Harriss, A’s

2

1

Opposing hurler

June 26, 1925

Phil.

Al Simmons, A’S

3

1

 

Sep. 11, 1925

Wash.

Roy Carlyle, Red Sox

6

1

 

Apr. 20, 1926

Wash.

Babe Ruth, Yankees

1

1

 

Apr. 23, 1926

Phil.

Joe Hauser, A’s

5

0

 

May 23, 1926

Wash.

Al Simmons, A’s

4

0

Into CF stands

June  2, 1926

(2) N.Y.

Earl Combs, Yankees

5

0

 

June 20, 1926

StL.

Ken Wffliams, Browns

7

2

Pinch hitter

July  1, 1926

(1) N.Y.

Lou Gehrig, Yankees

6

0

 

July 21, 1926

(2) Wash.

Henie Manush, Tigers

4

2

 

Aug.  9, 1926

Clev.

Tris Speaker, Indians

4

2

 

Aug. 13, 1926

Wash.

Lou Gehrig, Yankees

4

0

Two in same game

Aug. 13, 1926

Wash.

Lou Gehrig, Yankees

5

1

 

Aug. 30, 1926

N.Y.

Tony Lazzeri, Yankees

8

1

 

Sep. 11, 1926

(1) Clev.

Trjs Speaker, Indians

1

1

 

Sep. 25, 1926

(1) Chi.

Bill Barrett, White Sox

9

0

 

June  4, 1927

Wash.

Fred Schulte, Browns

4

0

Beat WJ 2-1

June 26, 1927

Wash.

Buddy Myer, Red Sox

2

0

 

July  4, 1927

(1) N.Y.

Lou Gehrig, Yankees

8

1

 

July  9, 1927

Clev.

Glenn Myatt, Indians

9

0

 

July 22, 1927

(1) StL.

Herschel Bennett, Browns

1

1

 

Aug. 22, 1927

(2) Det.

Harry Heilmann, Tigers

4

0

Two in same inning

Aug. 22, 1927

(2) Det.

Marty McManus, Tigers

4

1

 

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