Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Barry Bonds has a long way to go

As the 2007 baseball season marches into its second half, one of the biggest stories will of course be Barry Bonds's pursuit of 756 home runs. Now more a question of "when" rather than "if", Bonds will soon pass Hank Aaron as major league baseball's career home run leader.

Not to take anything away from Mr. Bonds, but passing Hank Aaron does not make anyone the best home run hitter of all-time. Not even close. As a matter of fact, Bonds will only move into 8th place when he hits number 756.

A look at those who rounded the bases more frequently:

7) Josh Gibson - Josh Gibson is considered by many to be the most prolific home run hitter in Negro League history. Rumor has it he hit between 800 and 1000 home runs. Unfortunately, because many Negro League games went undocumented and Gibson played in many unofficial scrimmages and barnstorming games, his true home run total may never be known.

However, taking what is considered his accurate home run per at bat ratio of 15.9, assuming in his travels he had 700 at bats a year (44 home runs), and figuring he played 18 seasons as a professional (16 in the Negro Leagues), Gibson would have ended with 792 homers. Short of 800, but more than Hank Aaron's 755.

6) Sadaharu Oh - Sadaharu Oh is the Japanese professional league career home run leader with 868. Although many have claimed the level in a league where former major league journeymen like Tuffy Rhodes can hit 55 home runs is not of equal measure, Oh's endurance through 21 years speaks volumes to his greatness.

5) Gene Fisher - Amateur Softball Hall of Famer Gene Fisher was one of the greatest hitters of the 1970s. According to his ASA profile, from 1970-1983, Fisher averaged .558 and drove home over 2,000. For his 24-year career, Fisher hit approximately 3,000 home runs.

4) Bruce Meade - (pictured) Another prolific softball slugger, Bruce Meade not only hit a home run into the upper deck of the Houston Astrodome, he also holds the record for longest distance for a softball home run (510 feet). For his career, Meade hit more than 3,500 homers, including a career best 247 in 1981.

3) Don Clatterbough - Slugger extraordinaire, Clatterbough was inducted into the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 2001. Modestly described as "a tough out", Clatterbough was a five-time ASA first team All-American and supposedly hit between 3,500 and 4,000 home runs.

2) Rick Scherr - Throughout the 1980s, no one hit home runs more frequently than Rick "The Crusher" Scherr. During what would be the best stint of his career, Scherr averaged a home run every 2.3 at bats and hit over .700. When his career ended after the 1991 season, Scherr counted over 4,000 home runs to his credit.

1) Don Arndt - For over three decades Don Arndt terrorized softball pitchers with his "fluid, graceful, almost effortless swing". Playing his entire career with Howard’s Furniture-Western Steer of Denver, NC, Arndt hit a career-high 309 home runs in 1985 at the age of 50. He ended his career with almost 7,000 home runs.

At the rate he is going (1 HR per 12.9 ABs and 441 ABs per year), Barry Bonds would have to average his 34 home runs for another 100 years to be in the same echelon as Meade, Clatterbough, Scherr, and Arndt. Think the mainstream media can stretch the steroids story that long?


stopmikelupica said...

I only believe about 45% of your post. I'm pretty sure you made up the last four guys.

Nice take.

Anonymous said...

since I watched Bruce Meade hit several of his HRs, I can vouch for his reality...no they're not made up...

Anonymous said...

rick scherr is my father and we have all his awards hanging on the wall at my house

J said...

Don Arndt wasn't made up. I have an old video tape of him teaching softball. I was a great team.

Jordi said...

Considering I am still trying to hit my first home run ever, I can only imagine the sheer power hitting ability of the gentlemen listed.

I really appreciate the comments, especially from those who knew these great hitters. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

StopMikeLupica...you my friend are an idiot. I played against 3 of the top 4 (Arndt, Scherr and Meade) guys on this list in the early to late 80's. All of these guys were full grown men playing Class A Softball. They all were pretty much impossible to get out because they would hit routine 400 ft homers over a 300 foot fence.

I once witnessed Bruce Meade hit a ball in the top of the Pine trees (about 80 ft high) and the ball was hit so hard that the limb it hit broke in half and fell 80 feet to the ground as everyone "gasped". That was in Wilmington NC in the summer of 1985. I was only in my early 20's at the time and weighed 160 lbs and was a doubles hitter and was amazed at the strength these guys had.

I was a line drive hitter and hit only a few homers my entire career and retired at age 27...but now am 44 yrs old and if still playing I could hit some 300+ foot homers fairly routinely. I weigh 240 lbs now and have filled out as these guys (some 20 to 30 yrs ahead of me in age) did. The only time you could get these guys out was when they missed and only hit 270 foot pop-ups.

It was an honor to have even been on the same field as all 3 of these guys and lived thru and witnessed watching these guys play. Western Steer/Howards, Steele's, and Blanton's pretty much won year after year for nearly 30 solid years (national champions)...alternating years and who was on who's team from year to year. All of these guys are in the Softball HOF in Virginia and you can verify all these feats listed.

Tis very true.

Anonymous said...

Don Arndt was not made up. He is my grandfather, and a wonderful man. He is now deceased but we still have his awards, as well as videos. Please do not belittle his softball career.

Anonymous said...