Will anyone match Mickey Mantle's tape-measure blast?

Sarah Glenn

Yesterday was a big anniversary of sorts, as ESPN's Greg Rybarczyk noted:

Wednesday marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most famous home runs in major-league history -- one hit by Mickey Mantle off Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Yankees publicist Red Patterson claimed the home run went 565 feet.

Is a 565-foot home run feasible in today's game? Let's look at that from two angles.

--super-snip--

In other words, hitting one that far will be a near-impossible achievement even for today's most prodigious power hitters.

In a moment, I'll review all the stuff I super-snipped. First, about that 565-foot home run ... By most accounts, Red Patterson basically made up the distance. He might have stepped off something while wandering around beyond the Griffith Stadium wall, or he might not have. But whatever he did was imprecise. In Jane Leavy's outstanding biography of Mantle, she did a great deal of outstanding detective work -- with a lot of help from Alan Nathan -- and concluded that Mantle's home run, after caroming off a scoreboard and then a roof, might have wound up somewhere between 550 and 560 feet from home plate.

Which is to suggest that Patterson's guesstimate might actually have been pretty close to the truth.

If so, isn't it manifest that someone today could hit the ball 565 feet? After all, it's not like Mickey Mantle's the strongest hitter of all time. As Rybarczyk points out, the key is the speed of the ball off the bat.

Last year, Giancarlo Stanton hit the longest home run: 494 feet. The ball was traveling 116 miles an hour off his bat.

The longest homer of the last six seasons was smashed by Adam Dunn: 504 feet. The ball was traveling 121 miles an hour off his bat.

Both players would have needed significantly more more off-the-bat speed -- roughly 10 m.p.h. more -- to reach 565, even though Stanton's blast came at Coors Field.

So can it happen? Sure. But it would have to be a Perfect Storm of pitch, swing, and wind ... oh, and some elevation would be nice, too. Today, though, there are more big guys throwing and swinging harder than ever, so I don't think it's anything close to impossible.

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