Anyone who says size does not matter has clearly missed out on some key moments in baseball history.
In the early 1900’s, President Roosevelt borrowed an old African proverb by stating, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” And while he may not necessarily have been referring to baseball, the saying seems to have made impact on the sport anyway.
The following is a list of the top 10 “big” moments, statistics and feats in baseball throughout the years.
The Biggest Bat
Babe Ruth played in the major leagues for 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. The 714 home runs he hit in that time span were smacked using the biggest bat in baseball history.
The 52 ounce bat swung by Ruth is the largest recorded bat size ever. Most players today use bats that average around 34-36 ounces in weight.
The Biggest Paycheck
The 10-year, $275 million contract broke A-Rod’s previous record of $252 million.
The Biggest Stature
The tallest player in Major League history is relief pitcher Jon Rauch, who measures six-feet, eleven inches in height.
Currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rauch first took the field on April 2, 2002. This year, Rauch will be competing for the closer role with the Jays.
The Biggest Mass
In 2005, first baseman Walter Young crushed the competition, weighing in at a whooping 322 pounds with a body mass index of 38.2, also the biggest in baseball.
Officially the heaviest player ever to grace a major league field, Young played only 15 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and batted .303.
Young played in the minor leagues until 2009. Currently, Young serves as a shift sergeant at the county jail for the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in his home state of Mississippi.
The heaviest current MLB player is pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees who weighs in at 290 pounds.
The Biggest Home Run
Considered “the longest home run ever,” this ball is estimated to have travelled around 643 feet and was hit against the Detroit Tigers at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
However, the longest verifiable home run distance is about 575 feet, which was hit by Babe Ruth on July 18, 1921, to straightaway center field at Tiger Stadium (then called Navin Field). It landed across the intersection of Trumbull and Cherry.
Since 1982, when the technology for accurately measuring home runs was put in place, the longest homer stands at 535 feet. That ball was hit by Adam Dunn against Jose Lima of the Dodgers on August 10, 2004.
The Biggest Dollar Amount Ever Shelled Out For A Baseball
Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball, which was hit on September 27, 1998 off pitcher Carl Pavano, fetched a gigantic $3,054,000 dollars at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City.
Sold on January 12, 1999 to action figure and comic book creator Todd McFarlane, his collection also includes McGwire’s #1, 63, 67, 68 and 69 home run Balls, along with Sammy Sosa’s #33, 61 and 66 home run balls.
The over $3 million dollar payment is the most money ever shelled out for a baseball.
The Biggest Payroll
In the year 2010, the New York Yankees continued their streak of breaking the bank with a total team payroll of $206,333,389.
The next closest payroll was that of the Boston Red Sox at $162,447,333. That is a difference of almost $44 million dollars.
The Biggest Arm
Prior to the 2010 season, the fastest reliable recorded speed which a baseball had ever been pitched was 100.9 mph by Nolan Ryan of the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in California on August 20, 1974.
Since that time, Ryan’s record was broken by Reds rookie Aroldis Chapman on September 24, 2010 at PETCO Park in San Diego. That pitch was clocked at 105.1 mph.
The Biggest Hitting Streak
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees began an unprecedented hitting streak on May 15, 1941. 56 games later on July 16, the streak ended. This record still stands today.
The only other player who came close was Pete Rose in 1978. His 44 games hit streak lasted from June 14 to August 1, just 12 games short of the record set by DiMaggio.
The Biggest Determination
He is not called the “Iron Man” for no reason. Third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. set the record for the most consecutive games ever played with 2,632. The streak lasted from May 30, 1982 until September 19, 1998, spanning 16 seasons.
This feat blew away the previous record which was set by Lou Gehrig from 1925 to 1939 with 2,130 consecutive games.
Ripken played his entire career with the Orioles and retired after the 2001 season.
A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Mantle photo by Wikimedia Commons