July 10, 2020

We Just Ranked the 15 Most Memorable Home Runs in Baseball History

Attend any baseball game at any level and there will be nothing more memorable than watching a player hit a home run.

For fans, the long ball is nothing short of intoxicating, which is why the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 helped bring fans back to baseball following the strike — even if they did it with a little bit of help.

Throughout history, games that end with a home run are always more memorable than games that end with a base hit or a great defensive play. Naturally, that got us thinking about the most memorable home runs in baseball history. 

We've ranked the 15 most memorable home runs in MLB history. Let's start with Mr. November...

15. Derek Jeter Becomes Mr. November, 2001 

This home run is the reason why Jeter earned the nickname of Mr. November. The Yankees were in danger of falling behind in the series 3-1 before Tino Martinez homered in the 9th to force extra innings.

Jeter then hit a walk-off shot on a full count in the bottom of the 10th to even the series 2-2. The game started on Halloween but Jeter’s homer came after midnight, making it the first dinger in MLB history hit in the month of November.

14. Aaron Boone Sends the Yankees to the World Series, 2003

Outside of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, this home run may not be that memorable, but it’s still a big one since it ended Game 7 of the ALCS. The deciding game of the series ended up going to 11 innings before Boone clobbered a hanging knuckleball against Tim Wakefield to send the Yankees to the World Series.

New York ended up losing to the Marlins, but the home run delayed Boston’s “curse” by one more year before the Red Sox eventually won the World Series in 2004.

13. The Homer in the Gloamin', 1938

Granted, there aren't a lot of people still breathing who saw this home run. In fact, spectators at Wrigley Field didn’t even see it. Without lights at Wrigley, darkness was starting to settle in with the umpires already ruling that the ninth would be the last inning.

With the game between the Pirates and Cubs tied at 5, the game would have to be replayed in its entirety if it ended in a tie. Fortunately, Chicago player-manager Gabby Hartnett stepped up to the plate with two outs. Through the darkness, he crushed the ball over the left-field wall, causing both players and fans to rush the field.

The win was part of a 19-3-1 finish by the Cubs that year to overcome a seven-game deficit during the final month of the season. The Cubs officially overtook the Pirates for first place after Hartnett’s home run, which became known as “The Homer in the Gloamin’.”

12. Roger Maris Breaks Babe Ruth's Record, 1961

Before he had players like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing him, Roger Maris had the task of breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, which stood for 34 years.

Unfortunately, rather than baseball celebrating an incredible accomplishment, Maris was the victim of some serious backlash for having the gall to break Ruth’s record. Undeterred by the stress that caused his hair to fall out prematurely, Maris hit No. 61 on the last day of the season against Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

11. Bucky Dent Keep the Curse Alive, 1978 

The buildup to this home run is probably more impressive than the home run itself, but Dent’s long ball is still one of the most memorable moments in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The Yanks trailed Boston by 10 games in the middle of July, only to come on strong late in the season and force a 163rd regular-season game. The Red Sox led that game 2-0, but the Yankees took the lead on a three-run homer from Dent in the 7th that barely made it over the Green Monster.

The Yankees won the game and eventually won another World Series with Dent being named World Series MVP. Meanwhile, Boston’s “curse” continued for 26 more years.

To this day, Red Sox fans still curse out Dent for the home run that broke their hearts.

10. Barry Bonds Surpasses Hank Aaron, 2007

While he technically became the single-season home run king in 2001, the blast Bonds hit to surpass Hank Aaron as the all-time home run leader is far more memorable.

On an August night in San Francisco, Bonds went yard for his 756th career homer. He did it against Mike Bacsik, whose father once faced Aaron while he was still on 755 career home runs.

Bonds remains a controversial figure, but that doesn’t change the fact that passing Aaron for the most home runs in baseball history was a monumental moment.

9. Kirby Puckett Saves the Twins, 1991

“And we’ll see you tomorrow night,” was the call from legendary broadcaster Jack Buck as Puckett led off the bottom of the 11th of Game 6 with a home run that sent the series to a Game 7.

Legend has it that Puckett told teammate Chili Davis that he intended to bunt in hopes of starting a rally. Whether he was kidding or not, Davis wasn’t buying it. He replied, “Bunt my ass. Hit it out and let’s go home.”

Puckett followed his teammate’s advice with one of the most dramatic World Series homers ever.

The Twins went on to win Game 7 to capture their second championship in five years.

8. Mark McGwire Mashes No. 62, 1998

We found out later that McGwire was juicing when he ended up hitting 70 home runs in 1998, sure, but at the time, all of baseball was captivated by McGwire and Sammy Sosa's chase for the record of 61 home runs in a season set by Roger Maris 37 years earlier.

Ironically, McGwire’s 62nd was a line drive that barely made it over the left-field wall and was a couple of feet away from being a long single. Fittingly, the shot came against Sosa and the Cubs with McGwire being congratulated right away by fellow first baseman Mark Grace with Sosa ultimately being a part of the celebration as well.

7. Carlton Fisk Sends the Sox To Game 7, 1975 

Few players have ever been as animated as Fisk in the time between hitting the ball and seeing the ball get over the wall. Of course, few players hit a 12th inning home run in the World Series with their team facing elimination. That was the situation for Fisk, who lifted the Red Sox to victory in a must-win game by waving his hands while he skipped down the first-base line.

Ultimately, his gesticulations paid off, as the ball hit the foul pole to give Boston a walk-off win.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox lost Game 7, keeping their alleged curse alive for nearly 30 more years despite Fisk’s dramatic home run.

6. Babe Ruth Calls His Shot, 1932 

Did Ruth really call his shot at Wrigley Field against Charlie Root in 1932? Even with video, it’s unclear what happened, but it’s an amazing story and a memorable home run nonetheless.

As the story goes, the players on Chicago’s bench were heckling Ruth, who may have pointed his bat to the deepest part of the park, moments before unloading on a pitch that traveled at least 440 feet but could have been close to 500 feet, albeit with a strong wind helping to carry the ball.

It has since become one of the most iconic moments in baseball history and one that has transcended sport and become a part of pop culture. It also helped the Yankees win the game and eventually sweep the series.

5. Hank Aaron Bests Babe Ruth, 1974

Obviously, Aaron is no longer baseball’s all-time home run king. But the night he broke the record with home run No. 715 was a seminal moment for the sport and the country.

After all, he was a Black man breaking the record set by the legendary Babe Ruth.

Aaron spent most of the previous offseason facing scrutiny and receiving death threats after finishing the 1973 season one shy of the record. The pressure he faced during that time must have been immense, yet Aaron showed incredible class and grace throughout the ordeal.

On April 8, 1974, Aaron hit home run No. 715 off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing in front of a record crowd at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. As he rounded the bases, two fans joined him for the home run trot, an image that will never be forgotten.

4. "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," 1951

Back when they were both sharing the city of New York, the Giants and Dodgers were forced to play a three-game tiebreaker series at the end of the regular season to decide the pennant.

The third game of the series was the first game to be nationally televised, and Bobby Thompson made sure they were not disappointed. The Dodgers led 4-2 when Thompson came to bat with two runners on base. First base was open if the Dodgers wanted to walk Thompson and face Willie Mays, who was on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. But pitcher Ralph Branca took his chances with Thompson, who hit a three-run home run to send the Giants to the World Series. In the baseball world, Thompson’s home run became known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

3. Kirk Gibson Hits an Unbelievable Walk-Off Homer, 1988

Gibson hurt his legs during the NLCS and could barely walk to the plate when Dodgers manager called upon him as a pinch-hitter to face Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Dodgers trailed 4-3 but had the tying run on base with Gibson up in the bottom of the ninth. As Gibson fouled off pitches, it became even more apparent that he was hurting. However, Gibson finally got a hold of a pitch and sent it over the right-field wall to give the Dodgers a 5-4 win in Game 1.

Gibson famously pumped his fists while gingerly running around the bases in what was his only at-bat of the series, which Los Angeles won in five games.

As he rounded the bases, broadcaster Jack Buck famously said: “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

2. Joe Carter Touches 'Em All, 1993

It doesn’t get any more special than hitting a walk-off home run to win the World Series. For what it’s worth, the Blue Jays were up 3-2 in the series, although they trailed 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth when Carter stepped to the plate.

Phillies closer Mitch Williams needed two more outs to force a Game 7. Despite struggling in the series up to that point, Carter took Williams deep, just sneaking the ball inside the left-field foul pole, to give the Blue Jays an 8-6 win and their second straight World Series championship.

Carter galloped around the bases as broadcaster Sean McDonough exclaimed: “Touch ‘em all, Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.”

1. Bill Mazeroski Walks-Off the World Series, 1960

Mazeroski’s home run is essentially every childhood dream come to life. It was the bottom of the nine in Game 7 of the World Series, and the Pirates had scored five runs in the previous inning to take the lead, only to concede two runs to the Yankees in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 9-9.

Mazeroski led off the bottom of the 9th against Ralph Terry and hit the second pitch he saw over the left-field wall.

To date, it's the only time that Game 7 of the World Series has ended on a home run, which undoubtedly makes it the most memorable home run in baseball history.

Photo: Getty Images