The other day I stumbled upon Jose Canseco’s mammoth homerun at the Toronto Skydome, which at the time was estimated to have landed 540 feet from the home plate. ”Oh my goodness!”. You can see the video here :
That impressive display of power (and steroid use) piqued my interest so I googled (is that an official verb now by the way?) ”longest homerun in Major League Baseball history” only to be very disappointed. Unfortunately, there isn’t much accurate and official information on the web regarding this topic because the MLB doesn’t keep records of ”yo dawg what’s the biggest bomb eva?”. Sure they’ll keep stats on who hit the most homeruns in his career, most homers in a season, in the playoffs and even how many they hit past 8:00 p.m. on syndays when it’s less than 80 degrees but if we want to know anything about distance, we’ll have to do some digging.
Estimating the distance of a home run
The problem with HRs hit in MLB stadiums is that the ball almost never completes it’s trajectory to the ground level. It either hits a light pole, a high wall, the scoreboard, a rooftop, a seat in the upper deck, concrete, and it’s even sometimes caught by a fan with a fishing net. Televised sports normally have software to estimate the landing distance of a home run but it is not always accurate, especially if you go back 10 or 15 years. There is a also a lot of broscience involved in mainstream media when it comes to calculating traveling distances, so a lot of the noticeable blasts done throughout baseball history were over and underestimated.
Someone who can accurately determine traveled distance of a long ball HR
During my frustrating research, right when I was about to give up, I ran into this little gem of a site called hit tracker online, which I absolutely love. The site is run by an engineer called Greg Rybarczyk who basically loves the physics behind homerun hitting and ball traveling. Since 2006, hittrackeronline estimates the true traveled distance of a baseball for HRs hit in MLB season and playoffs. Since the ball almost never lands on ground level, what he does is use all available data (wind, weather conditions, exit speed of the ball on contact, angle of the battled ball when leaving the bat, time traveled, horizontal distance where it landed, vertical distance where it landed (how high in the stands), spin of the ball, and so on. All this data runs through a formula that gives a relatively good estimate of the distance the baseball would have traveled had it not been interrupted during it’s flight.
Debunking some old myths about the long ball
If like myself you have done some research on this topic, you have probably heard some funny stuff. Baseball legends like Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth have been reported to have hit mammoths shots, as in 643 feet and 628 feet respectively. Here’s the problem : those distances are where the ball stopped rolling, after bouncing a few times. We’re talking about landing distance here, not rolling distance. Sorry I just broke your bubble.. I’m sure Mantle and Ruth were amazing players but 630+ feet is a long way and today’s roided-up huge guys probably can’t hit it that far. If it was ever a matter of rolling distance, I would too have some amazing blasts in my beer league softball stats.
The real accurate top 5 longest bombs ever hit
This includes every noticeable homerun since 2006 and some old school highlight homers that were analyzed by hit tracker online (because they were believed to have traveled very far). Some notorious blasts, like Canseco’s upper deck moonshot at the Toronto Skydome haven’t been analyzed for some reason.
1) Reggie Jackson, 1971 All-Star Game
Stadium : Tiger Stadium
Distance : 532 feet
2) Ted Williams, 1946
Stadium : Fenway Park
Distance : 527 feet
3) Mark McGwire with the Oakland A’s, 1997
Stadium : Jacobs Field
Distance : 523 feet
4) Glenallen Hill, 2000
Stadium : Wrigley Field
Distance : 500 feet
5) Matt Holliday, 2006
Stadium : Coors Field
Distance : 498 feet
That’s it guys. A five hundred and thirty-two feet blast! No more, no less. I really wish the author of this site would have analyzed Canseco’s shot at the Toronto Skydome but for some reason he didn’t. By the way Canseco claims to have homeruns in the 600 feet range in b.p. and has them on video.. which we’ve never seen anywhere on youtube. That’s what he says about 1:40 into this video