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Random Game Callback, August 24, 1947
2006-08-24 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

The New York Giants belted five home runs to set a new National League record for home runs in a season as they split a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds to the Cubs, winning the first game 4-0, and losing the second 8-3. 26,715 fans looked on.

The Giants ran their season total to 173 at the end of the day, breaking the previous NL best of 171 set by the Cubs back in 1930.

Giants manager Mel Ott started his rookie ace Larry Jansen in the first game and the interestingly named Hooks Iott in the nightcap. The Cubs, managed by Charlie Grimm, had Hank Borowy and Hank Wyse starting each game.

In the opener, Giants catcher Walker Cooper hit a 2-run homer and left fielder Sid Gordon hit a solo shot to bring the team total to 170. The Cubs had eight singles off of Jansen. The game was over in 1:48.

The second game was scoreless until the fifth. The Cubs pushed across a run and had the bases loaded with first baseman Eddie Waitkus at bat. Waitkus got hold off of an Iott offering a clobbered it to center where Bobby Thomson of the Giants tried to make a diving catch, but missed and the ball rolled behind him. The problem, of course, was that the center field fence at the Polo Grounds was over 480 feet away. Waitkus had no trouble circling the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. And that was the end of Iott's day as Andy Hansen came in to relieve.

Catcher Ernie Lombardi hit the record-tying 171st home run when he homered off the left field foul pole in the sixth. Shortstop Buddy Kerr hit the record-breaking home run in the seventh into the upper deck in left field. First baseman Johnny Mize hit his 40th of the season in the eighth.

The Giants would go on to break the major league record for homers, 182 by the 1936 Yankees, later in the year and finish the season with 221 home runs. The Reds would tie the mark in 1956. The Yankees would reclaim the record with 240 home runs in 1961. The 1997 Mariners currently hold the record with 264 home runs and the 2000 Astros hold the NL record with 249.

The Giants had seven players with double digit marks in home runs. Mize tied with Ralph Kiner for the league lead with 51. Willard Marshall had 36, Cooper had 35, and Thomson had 29 to round out the NL top five in home runs.

It wasn't unusual that the Giants led the league in home runs as the Polo Grounds was not a hard place to hit the ball out of. The Giants led the NL in home runs in 1946, but they had just 121. Home runs spiked in 1947 for reasons that no one seems to know. The Giants would not top their 1947 total until 2000 when they hit 226. The team record is now 235 set in 2001.

Despite all the homers, the Giants finished in fourth place at 81-73, 13 games out of first place. The Brooklyn Dodgers, with rookie sensation Jackie Robinson, took the pennant and lost a seven-game World Series to the Yankees.

Although the Giants led the NL in scoring, the pitching staff was seventh in ERA at 4.44. Jansen went 21-5 with a 3.16 ERA, but the rest of the staff was awful. The rookie who was supposed to star for the Giants, Clint Hartung, made his debut and went 9-7 with a 4.57 ERA. He did bat .309, but he would never hit or pitch well again and was out of the majors after the 1952 season.

The best help for the Giants in 1948 would be coming from across town. Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher was suspended for a season for consorting with gamblers and other unsavory types. Durocher came back in 1948 to manage the Dodgers, but left in midseason and moved over to the Giants to replace Ott. Durocher would lead the Giants to a pennant in 1951 and a World Series win in 1954.

As for the Cubs, just two years after winning the pennant, they were in sixth place with a 69-85 record. The Cubs would not finish in the upper division of the NL again until 1967. When Leo Durocher was the manager.

Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet,

2006-08-24 11:40:07
1.   Linkmeister
"the 2000 Astros hold the NL record with 249."

What?!? Of all the storied home run-hitting teams, the Astros aren't the ones I'd even consider as holding that record!

2006-08-24 11:51:25
2.   Bob Timmermann
Two words:

Enron Field

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