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South Jersey Baseball History:
The Home Run Hitters, A Line-up of Thunder

Tuesday, May 8, 2001

By Charlie Schick
South Jersey Baseball Historical Society

Last month, April 18, 2001 to be exact, San Francisco Giants left-fielder Barry Bonds hit his 500th major league home run and thus joined an elite group of 16 power hitters who make up the big league's greatest home run hitters of all time. Not only is Bonds the 17th member of this 500-plus homer club, he is also the 9th outfielder among them.

In searching the professional baseball record books, it becomes quite apparent that the great thumpers of the past were predominately outfielders. In fact, when we review the only players to ever produce 600 or more career round trippers in the big show, they are all outfielders; Hank Aaron with his all-time high 755, Babe Ruth who mashed 714, and Willie Mays' 660 blasts.

Single season home run kings also show a prevalence for the roamers of the outfield pastures. For example, 70% of the men who have ripped 50 or more dingers in a major league season are in fact outfielders. Certainly the most famous of these is the legionary Babe Ruth turned the trick four times in his career. More recently, the Chicago Cubs powerful right-fielder Sammy Sosa has become a frequent member of the club with three appearances. In addition, Sammy has also established a new record for outfielders with his 66 blasts in 1998, just 4 behind first baseman Mark McGuire's all-time mark of 70 homers.

There's no question that the baseball record books have allotted chapters and whole volumes on the home run kings of the past and present. However, we thought it would be both interesting and unique to document the all-time home run producers for each position on the playing field and then compare them with the South Jersey scholastic leaders. Due to the lack of career records at the high school level, we will present our findings on a single season format.

Our big league line-up of thunder bashers starts off with Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench who crushed 45 big ones in 1970. At first base is the major league's all-time king, St. Louis Cardinals Mark McGuire and his record setting 70 four baggers of 1998. The Atlanta Braves second sacker Dave Johnson is next in order with his 43 homers of 1973. At shortstop is Hall of Famer Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, who ripped 47 home runs in 1958. Rounding out our infield at the hot corner is another Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies, who parked 48 round trippers in 1980.

We've already mentioned how productive big league outfielders have been when it comes to piling up home run numbers, but our three fly catchers are the best of the best. First, is Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs with his unbelievable 66 rockets of 1998. The New York Yankees supply our next two outfielders and they both are past all-time home run record holders. Of course, they are Roger Maris who cracked 61 in 1961, and the one and only "Babe" George Herman Ruth who started this whole thing with his amazing 60 bombs in 1927.

As you can see, our major league all-time home run leaders line-up features players from 1927 to 1998. Our scholastic team, however, will be comprised of players of more recent times because of the influence of the aluminum bat on high school power hitting. In fact, every member of our scholastic squad used a thunder tube to produce their position leading numbers. Just as a point of reference, before the aluminum bat made it's entrance in the mid-70's, the South Jersey high school single season wood bat home run record was eight.

The catching position starts off our scholastic all-time home run team, and Buena High's Jeff Cooper holds down that spot with 14 blasts in the 1985 season. First base honors are shared by two long ball hitters of the 1988 campaign, the multi-talented Glenn Foley of Cherry Hill East High and powerful Mark Karr of Pennsville High. These two hard hitting first sackers tied with 11 big ones each. Our second base spot is also held by two young men with 11 dingers each and they also hit them in the same year. The twin record holders are Mike Bloomquist of Riverside High and Nick Italiano of Bishop Eustace Prep, Player of the Year in '99, both picking up their 11 four baggers in 1999.

The left side of our power hitting infield features the cream is the of the crop of scholastic home run producers. At the hot corner is the single season record holder Angelo Santiago of Buena High with 16 home runs in his Player of the Year 1988 season. Yet still another Player of the Year award winner shortstop Charlie Rogers of Millville High completes the infield with his 15 dingers in his outstanding 1997 senior year.

Our power packed high school outfield includes three quality all around players. First is hard-hitting Greg Mickles of Maple Shade High who pounded 14 big ones in his final year of the 1998. Next comes the powerfully built Ron Dorsey of Hammonton High who plastered 13 round trippers in 1997. And last but not least, is Dan Olson of Lower Cape May High who hit double digit homers in both his junior and senior years, but posted his highest mark of 12 in 1993.

Major Leagues Home Runs Position High School Home Runs
Johnny Bench, 1970
Catcher Jeff Cooper, 1985
Mark McGuire, 1998
First Base Glenn Foley, 1988
Mark Karr, 1988
Dave Johnson, 1973
Second Base Mike Bloomquist, 1999
Nick Italiano, 1999
Mike Schmidt, 1980
Third Base Angelo Santiago, 1989
Ernie Banks, 1958
Shortstop Charlie Rogers, 1997
Sammy Sosa, 1998
Outfielder Greg Mickles, 1998
Roger Maris, 1961
Outfielder Ron Dorsey, 1997
Babe Ruth, 1927
Outfielder Dan Olson, 1993

@ - All time high

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