On July 19, 1922, Rogers Hornbsy set a National League record by hitting his 25th home run of the season. The record setter was about as clutch as they come, as the Cardinals were trailing the Boston Braves 6-4 at the time with two men on and two men out in the ninth. Frank Miller was on the mound, and Hornsby sent him to the locker room a loser with one swing of the stick. Meanwhile, Hornsby was carried off the field, as the hero of the day.
Times were changin' in the world of baseball, as the ball began to fly like it had never flown before. There was a young slugger in New York by the name of Babe Ruth who took the baseball world by storm. In 1919, Ruth had broken the all-time record of 27, set by Ned Williamson of the Chicago White Stocking in 1884 with 29 big blasts. Ruth then went onto assault the record book with 54 homes run in 1920. Ruth continued that assault for many years, which included a career high 60 home runs in 1927. That stood as the major league record until 1961.
Hornsby's record setting 25th surpassed Philadelphia Phillies slugger Gavvy Carath, who had hit 24 in 1915. Hornsby went onto obliterate the record by hitting 42 home runs during that 1922 season. He also hit .401 that season, and to date he is the only player to hit over .400 and hit 40 or more home runs. The 42 in '22 was a career high for the man they called Rajah. However, his career was a career that ended in Cooperstown, as well as a statue in front of the stadium in St. Louis. Chuck Klein of the Phillies hit 43 in 1929 to take over as the National League record holder.
The "Big Cat" Johnny Mize took over as the franchise leader in 1940 with a 43 home run season. That record stood until Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998. Other than the players previously mentioned, only Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds hit more than 40 home runs with the Birds on the Bat across their chest. Jimmy Ballgame did it twice, and Albert did it six times. While one of the men mentioned has had their record scrutinized in recent past, each of these men thrilled fans in St. Louis. I feel lucky to have watched a few of them play, and would have loved to watch the others play as well. Especially Rogers Hornsby.
Today marks the 500th fact I have published on onthisdayincardinalnation.com. I see it as a milestone that I am proud of. I want to extend a sincere thank you to each of you for helping make this a success. You all give me a reason to do this. My interest in sports history began as nothing more than a hobby, however, I do believe it has evolved into something great. Again, I thank you all for that.