Appendix: Fun Facts About Little League Home Runs
This article was published in the Spring 2017 Baseball Research Journal.
Editor's note: This is the Appendix to Chuck Hildebrandt's article, "‘Little League Home Runs’ in MLB History: The Denouement."
There were originally 355 plays in consideration as Little League Home Runs: 329 have been confirmed by media accounts and are discussed here; one other has confirmation pending as of date of publication. Three have been rejected because of circumstances surrounding the plays and the remaining 22 have been rejected because the media accounts conflicted with the play as recorded in Retrosheet’s play-by-play database. In addition, one confirmed LLHR originally credited to Ted Simmons has been changed and properly credited to Joe Torre, per newspaper accounts. Retrosheet has confirmed the veracity of the newspaper accounts and has committed to correcting these 22 plays in their database to match those accounts.
Ironically, the first known mention in newspaper accounts of the term “Little League Home Run” found thus far did not refer to the phenomenon contemplated by this research study, but refers instead to Dusty Rhodes’ pinch-hit World Series home run that barely scraped over the Polo Grounds right field wall 258 feet from home plate in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. The term was coined in a column written by Marty Levin, sports editor for the Wilmington (DE) Morning News.1
The first mention of the term “Little League Home Run” that does refer to that which this study defines as such appeared in the game account of Denny Doyle’s LLHR hit on June 1, 1974. The beat writer was Jeff Prugh of the Los Angeles Times.2
As of publication date, there have been three days on which two Little League Home Runs were hit: May 30, 1933 (Bob Johnson, Jim Levey); June 30, 1991 (Alfredo Griffin, Will Clark); and June 16, 2012 (Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion).
A surprising number of pitchers have hit Little League Home Runs: 18 in all, about 5.5 percent of the total. That may seem strange at first blush, but it makes sense as you think a little more about it: when pitchers bat, they typically bunt with a runner on first and/or second with less than two out, and as infielders rush in to grab the ball and hurry the throw to a base, it seems more likely they will throw the ball away and yield the LLHR.
Ted Simmons was originally thought to have hit three Little League Home Runs, only one of two players to have done so. However, when newspaper accounts were consulted, two of them were found to have been two separate plays instead of a single LLHR play, with Simmons stopping on base on the first play each time and then scoring on a teammate’s at bat — one of which was on Joe Torre’s own Little League Home Run!
Tony Fernandez of the Toronto Blue Jays hit Little League Home Runs in back-to-back at bats on two different days (June 15 and 16, 1988) against two different teams (Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers) in two different cities (Toronto, Detroit).
Joe DiMaggio’s three-run Little League Home Run against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 4 was the hit that scored the winning runs to clinch the 1939 World Series for the New York Yankees.
Despite there having been 24 Little League Home Runs hit in the ninth inning or later, there has been only one walk-off LLHR in history found as of publication date: Manny Mota’s two-run “shot” to turn a 1–0 deficit into a 2–1 win for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Mets on August 27, 1963. (Of those 24 LLHRs, 19 were hit by the visiting team.)
Little League Home Runs By The Numbers
With the inclusion of qualifying one-error plays, and addition of play-by-play accounts for recent and prior seasons added to the Retrosheet archives after the 2016 season, there have been 329 confirmed Little League Home Runs in 155,856 recorded games. All numbers below are through the 2016 season.
- 9: 1991
- 8: 1972, 2000
- 7: 1925, 1927, 1978
- 6: 1930; 1964; 1966; 1974; 1976; 1979; 1983; 1985; 1993
- 5: Thirteen seasons (last: 2007)
- 4: Nineteen seasons (last: 2015)
- 3: Fifteen seasons (last: 2014)
- 2: Thirteen seasons (last: 2013)
- 1: Sixteen seasons (last: 2016)
- 0: 1989; 2003
- Incomplete Seasons3: 1921; 1922; 1925; 1927; 1930-1943
- No Play-by-Play Data (except World Series): 1871-1920; 1923-1924; 1926; 1928-1929
How Reached Base
Number of Errors
Errors by Positions
|Gave It Up||143||187|
Hit By Team
Note: National League hit one in 1938 All-Star Game.
Given Up By Team
NOTE: American League yielded one in 1938 All-Star Game.
As of publication date, sixty-nine different ballpark venues have seen at least one LLHR hit within. Here is a list of every venue with ten or more:
|Candlestick Park||San Francisco||13|
|Sportsman's Park IV||St. Louis||11|
|Polo Grounds IV||New York||10|
|Busch Stadium II||St. Louis||10|
Active Ballparks with no LLHRs
|Great American Ball Park||Cincinnati||2003|
|Petco Park||San Diego||2004|
|Yankee Stadium||New York||2009|
Players with 2 LLHRs
- Tommie Agee
- Chad Allen
- Johnny Bench
- Barry Bonds
- Donn Clendenon
- Tony Fernandez
- Curt Flood
- Dave Gallagher
- Jim Gilliam
- Bobby Grich
- Ron Hunt
- (Indian) Bob Johnson
- Carlos Lee
- Kenny Lofton
- Garry Maddox
- Jack Perconte
- Mario Soto
- Tris Speaker
Players with 3 LLHRs
- Luke Sewell
Players Who Have Hit Little League Home Runs AND Played in the Little League World Series
|Derek Bell||1980, 1981||1994|
- 1. Marty Levin, "Sports Gazing," Wilmington (DE) Morning News, September 30, 1954.
- 2. Jeff Prugh, “Ryan’s No-Hit Bid Ends in 8th,” Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1974.
- 3. Seasons with play-by-play available for fewer than 99% of regular season games. Seasons with play-by-play for 40.0-49.9% of games: 1921, 1943; 50-59.9%: 1941, 1942; 60-69.9%: 1938, 1939, 1940; 70-79.9%: 1922, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936; 80-83.7%: 1925, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1937.