Appendix: Fun Facts About Little League Home Runs

By Chuck Hildebrandt

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.

 

By 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

 


By Month

Month Number
March-April 24
May 66
June 59
July 60
August 63
September 49
October 9

 


By Inning

Month Number
1st 32
2nd 33
3rd 39
4th 40
5th 43
6th 39
7th 38
8th 42
9th 20
10th 2
11th 0
12th
1
13th
1

 


How Reached Base

Play Number
Comp %
Single 183 55.5%
Double 57 17.3%
Fielder's Choice 22 6.7%
Error-1 22 6.7%
Error-2 1 0.3%
Error-3 3 0.9%
Error-4 10 3.0%
Error-5 12 3.6%
Error-6 5 1.5%
Error-7 3 0.9%
Error-8 6 1.8%
Error-9 6 1.8%

 


Number of Errors

Errors n Comp %
1 70 21.2%
2 253 76.7%
3 7 2.1%

 


Errors by Positions

Position Errors Comp %
P 84 14.1%
C 82 13.7%
1B 48 8.0%
2B 63 10.6%
3B 76 12.7%
SS 35 5.9%
LF 51 8.5%
CF 58 9.7%
RF 100 16.8%

 


Runs Scored

Runs n Comp %
1 85 25.8%
2 148 44.8%
3 80 24.2%
4 17 5.2%

 


By League

Action American National
Hit It 146 184
Gave It Up 143 187

 


Hit By Team

Team Number
ARI 0
ATL (BSN/MLN) 12
BAL (SLA) 14
BOS 4
CHA 13
CHN 13
CIN 18
CLE 20
COL 4
DET 16
HOU 11
KCA 5
LAA (CAL/ANA) 9
LAN (BRO) 18
MIA (FLO) 3
MIL (SE1) 7
MIN (WS1) 13
NYA 15
NYN 12
OAK (PHA/KC1) 11
PHI 17
PIT 22
SDN 7
SEA 4
SFN (NY1) 18
SLN 17
TBA 3
TEX (WS2) 7
TOR 8
WAS (MON) 8

Note: National League hit one in 1938 All-Star Game.

 


Given Up By Team

Team Number
ARI 3
ATL (BSN/MLN) 20
BAL (SLA) 7
BOS 11
CHA 9
CHN 15
CIN 16
CLE 21
COL 3
DET 18
HOU 7
KCA 6
LAA (CAL/ANA) 5
LAN (BRO) 22
MIA (FLO) 4
MIL (SE1) 11
MIN (WS1) 12
NYA 8
NYN 6
OAK (PHA/KC1) 17
PHI 19
PIT 21
SDN 6
SEA 6
SFN (NY1) 16
SLN 15
TBA 0
TEX (WS2) 6
TOR 6
WAS (MON) 12

NOTE: American League yielded one in 1938 All-Star Game.

 


By Ballpark

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:

Ballpark City Total
Tiger Stadium Detroit 16
Crosley Field Cincinnati 14
Candlestick Park San Francisco 13
Forbes Field Pittsburgh 11
Sportsman's Park IV St. Louis 11
Cleveland Stadium Cleveland 11
Polo Grounds IV New York 10
Angel Stadium Anaheim 10
Wrigley Field Chicago 10
Busch Stadium II St. Louis 10
Ebbets Field Brooklyn 10

 


Active Ballparks with no LLHRs

Ballpark City Year
Opened
Progressive Field Cleveland 1994
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

Player LLWS LLHR
Boog Powell 1954 1966
Carney Lansford 1969 1980
Lloyd McClendon 1971 1992
Derek Bell 1980, 1981 1994
Christian Bethancourt 2004 2016
  • 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.