COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Today, their numbers are indisputably impressive.
But when they retired, Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott ranked below only Babe Ruth as the greatest power hitters of all-time.
Two great sluggers with more than 500 plus home runs apiece were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America 60 years ago this week.
Ott, the New York Giants’ infielder/outfielder, and Foxx, the intimidating first basemen of the A’s and Red Sox, were the only two players elected to the Hall of Fame that year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Ott was named on 87.2 percent of the ballots in his third year. Making his big league debut at the age of 17, Ott enjoyed a 22-year career with the New York Giants in which he made 11 All-Star game appearances, won three National League pennants and one World Series championship in 1933 over the Washington Senators.
His future Hall of Fame manager, John McGraw raved, “He’s got the finest natural swing I’ve ever seen. I’ll miss my guess if he doesn’t become the greatest hitter we’ve ever had at the Polo Grounds.”
Ott belted 511 home runs, hitting 30 or more home runs eight different times while sharing top home run honors on six occasions.
Along with Ott, Foxx joins baseball’s promised land after collecting 79.2 percent of the vote in his seventh year of eligibility.
One of the games true power hitters, The Beast hammered 534 career home runs, becoming only the second person to reach 500. He hit 30 or more home runs in 12 consecutive seasons with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox and drove in more than 100 runs 13 consecutive years, including a career-best 175 with Boston in 1938.
“The balls that Foxx drove for distance throughout the American League and in three World Series are still talked about in the dugouts of the majors,” Ed Rumill, sports editor for Christian Science Monitor wrote in 1972. “No right-hand hitter ever had more power.”
Foxx won the Most Valuable Player Award on three different occasions including back to back American League MVP Awards in 1932 and 1933, winning the Triple Crown in 1933.
Matt Kramer was the 2010 public relations fall intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum