Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ott Joins 500 Home Run Club

On August 1, 1945 New York Giants Mel Ott becomes the first National League player to hit 500 home runs, joining two American League players in New York Yankees great Babe Ruth and Philadelphia Athletics great Jimmy Foxx.

Since Ott joined the 500 home run club, the feat has been achieved by, in this order, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Matthews, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Eddie Murray, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield.

Ott has the third fewest home runs of any member in the 500 home run club just above Murray, 504 and Sheffield, 509. He is also one of four New York and San Francisco Giants on the list, with Mays McCovey and Bonds joining him in that order.

In his 22-year career Ott played for the New York Giants and was a 12-time All-Star, with 12 consecutive appearances from 1934-1945. He was part of the 1933 New York Giants World Series Championship team. Ott never won an MVP award but was in the MVP discussion 13 times during his career, and in the top five in voting three times.

During his career Ott set quite a few Major League Baseball records including being a six-time National League Home Run champion, including three consecutive seasons from 1936-1938. He became the youngest player to hit 100 home runs, as well the first National League player to hit 500 home runs. He also holds a major league record by leading his team 18 consecutive years in home runs from 1928–1945.

Ott also passed Rogers Hornsby to become the all-time NL home run leader in 1937 and held that title until Willie Mays passed him in 1966.

Ott also held several other records outside of hitting the long ball. He was a very patient batter, as he led the National League in walks six times, including three consecutive years from 1931–33. He also shares an MLB record by drawing a walk in seven consecutive plate appearances from June 16 through 18, 1943.

Other offense records that Ott holds are twice scored six runs in a game, on August 4, 1934 and April 30, 1944. He was also the first National League player to post eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons, only Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones, and Albert Pujols have joined him.

His defensive skills were also above par, as he twice led all National League outfielders in double plays in 1929 and 1935.

Ott finished his career with a .304 batting average, 2,876 hits with 488 doubles, 72 triples, 511 home runs, 1,708 walks with 1,860 RBIs, 1,859 runs scored and 89 steals. He struck out 896 times.

Twice Ott led the league in runs scored, 1938 and 1942, although his highest single season total of 138 came 1929. He led the league in home runs six times, although his highest single season total of home runs, 42, came in 1929 when he did not lead the league. He led the league in RBIs once, 1934, although his highest single season total of 151 came in 1929 when he did not lead the league. He led the league in walks six times, although his highest single season total of 118 came in 1938, when he did not lead the league in walks.

Near the end of Ott’s playing career he coached the New York Giants from 1942 until his retirement in 1947 and one season after retirement in 1948. The Giants best finish during that time was in third place in 1942. Ott also set a record for managers, as he was the first manager to be ejected from both games of a doubleheader, when the Giants lost both games to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 9 1946.