Ranking the 11 greatest home runs in baseball history
On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron hit one of the most memorable home runs of all time.
Aaron crushed career No. 715 to pass Babe Ruth and make him the all-time home run king (his record has since been broken).
How does that bomb stack up against the best homers ever hit?
Here’s how I’d rank the 11 best home runs of all time.
(Of course, this is completely subjective and you can make many arguments for other homers and a different order. Add your suggestions in the comments at the bottom.)
11. Aaron Boone sends Yankees to World Series
At the tail end of the Yankees’ modern dynasty — although we didn’t know that at the time — Boone had one of the best moments a Yankee could possibly have. In Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, leading off the bottom of the 11th inning in the Bronx, Boone drove the first knuckleball from Tim Wakefield out to left field to send New York to the World Series. The Yanks would end up losing the World Series to the Florida Marlins, but baseball fans will never forget this swing.
10. Kirby Puckett forces Game 7
In Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, Minnesota Twins needed a victory to send the Fall Classic to a seventh game. Before leading off the bottom of the 11th in the Metrodome, the late Puckett told teammate Chili Davis he would bunt for a base hit and get the rally started. "Bunt my ass!" Davis responded, as the story goes. "Hit it out and let’s go home." Puckett did just that, setting up Game 7, which would become known as one of the best World Series games in history with Jack Morris throwing a 10-inning shutout and the Twins winning 1-0 on a walk-off single. I adored Puckett as a kid and could be irrationally talked into moving this higher.
9. Mark McGwire passes Maris
The 1998 baseball season was captivating. McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in one of the best home run races we’ve seen, with both chasing Roger Maris’ single-season home record of 61. On Sept. 8 in St. Louis, McGwire hit a bullet down the left-field line for his 62nd homer of the season. Sosa would also top Maris’ mark, finishing the season with 66, but McGwire ended the ’98 season with 70 homers. That, of course, was broken in 2001 when Barry Bonds hit 73 homers. (Note: Both McGwire’s and Bonds’ seasons have been linked to steroid use. They were still fun.)
8. Kirk Gibson in 1988 World Series
Down 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and facing great Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley, it seemed like the Los Angeles Dodgers would drop Game 1 of the World Series. But manager Tommy Lasorda summoned a hobbling Gibson, who had banged up his legs in the NLCS and didn’t start Game 1, to pinch hit. Gibson drove a ball out to right for a two-run walk-off, which would be his only plate appearance of the World Series. The Dodgers won the Series in five games, and Gibson’s homer will always be remembered as a great October moment, accompanied by Vin Scully’s call.
7. Maris breaks Babe Ruth’s single-season record
Before McGwire and Sosa could chase down Maris, the Yankee himself had to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record of 60, which was set in 1927. What makes Maris’ 61st homer in the 1961 season so great is the build-up to it, when many didn’t want him to set the record. Maris faced intense backlash for closing in on sacred territory — which is the only way we can describe Ruth’s place in the game — even Commissioner Ford Frick added to the controversy. Frick, a friend of Ruth’s, decided not to honor Maris’ 61 homers as the single-season mark since he did it in 162 games and Ruth’s 60 homers were hit during a 154-game season. Baseball considered them separate achievements until 1991, when a committee removed the invisible asterisk from Maris’ season and crowned him as the single-season home run king.
6. Carlton Fisk saves the Red Sox
In Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Boston needed to beat Cincinnati to force a seventh game. In the bottom of the 12th inning at Fenway Park, Fisk pulled a pitch over the Green Monster for a walk-off homer. He’s famously remembered for waving the ball fair as it flew through the air and eventually hit the foul pole. It’s an all-time Red Sox and MLB moment, although Boston would, of course, lose Game 7 to keep the Curse of the Bambino intact (until 2004, when hell froze over).
5. Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World
Some have this as a top-three homer of all time, but I can’t quite give it that placement on this list. The story: In the deciding Game 3 of the 1951 NL playoff series, the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit a walk-off homer off the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca to give the Giants the NL pennant. It’s a fantastic moment because of the old-school Giants-Dodgers rivalry, the famous "The Giants win the pennant!" call and the "Shot Heard ‘Round the World" nickname that would later accompany it, but it secured only a pennant for the Giants. They would then lose the World Series to the Yankees. Still, it’s a top-five homer of all time.
4. Bonds hits 756 to pass Aaron
This might be too high — and it will definitely be dismissed by some because of Bonds’ steroid history — but here’s where I stand: Bonds became the all-time home run king when he hit No. 756 on Aug. 7, 2007, passing Hank Aaron, and his 762 career homers remain the most in baseball’s official record books. You can make the argument if you wish that Bonds’ record is tainted due to steroids, but it’s impossible to know who used what, and when, so I’m going strictly by baseball’s records. If the league says Bonds has hit more homers than anybody else, then that’s good enough. And the home run that officially passed everybody else for most ever deserves a top-four spot.
3. Hank Aaron hits 715 to pass Babe Ruth
Speaking of Aaron: You can argue for other homers that had more impact on an entire team and not just one individual — this was on April 8, after all — but I have Hank here because of the historical significance of passing Ruth and the circumstances under which Aaron did it. He faced ugly racism leading up to No. 715 from an ignorant and vocal segment that, in 1974, didn’t want to turn the title of all-time home run king over to an African-American. Despite the daily death threats and backlash, Aaron persevered and passed the Babe before settling at 755. Because of Aaron’s grace, humility and brilliance in the face of all this, he is rightly remembered — and still celebrated today — as one of baseball’s greatest icons.
2. Joe Carter wins the 1993 World Series
Carter’s walk-off homer in Game 6 of the ’93 World Series to give Toronto the title could be No. 1 on this list, but I have it second based on a simple technicality (as you’ll see below). That aside, this is as good as it gets in sports. I love Carter absolutely losing it and jumping joyously around the bases after taking Philadelphia’s Mitch Williams deep.
1. Bill Mazeroski wins the 1960 World Series
This is the ultimate: A walk-off homer in Game 7 of the World Series. Mazeroski’s dinger in the bottom of the ninth that helped the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series tops Carter’s simply because Maz’s came in a Game 7. The only way we can beat this is if we combine incredible moments together. So when Giancarlo Stanton breaks the all-time home run record with a walk-off homer in Game 7 of the 2030 World Series, then we can talk about the top spot on this list.
Teddy Mitrosilis works in content production at FOX Sports Digital. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.