|Still the Greatest One-Two Punch|
By Raymond J. Gonzalez
When we think of a home run one-two punch, we must recognize that Eddie Mathews and Henry Aaron hit the most fourbaggers while they were teammates on the Braves from 1954 to 1966. Ed hit 415 in that period and Hank 442, for a total of 857.
And yet, these two outstanding long ball hitters did not establish a special reputation as a great one-two punch, such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig from 1925 to 1934. The latter two did not play together so long- 10 seasons, to 13 for Mathews and Aaron-yet still provided on a game-by-game basis more damage to a pitcher's ego and ERA than any other duo.
This is true partly because of the fact that both batted the same way-from the port side. On the other hand, Mathews batted left and Aaron right. This explanation can also be extended to the other great home run duos, such as Willie Mays, who hit 430 homers (right) and Willie McCovey, 370 (left) for the San Francisco Giants 1959-71, and Duke Snider, who hit 384 (left) and Gil Hodges 361 (right) for the Dodgers 1947-61. Theoretically, an opposing pitcher had some advantage over one of these hitters on the basis of right vs left, etc., and was not so susceptible to being clobbered by both batters, particularly with back-to-back homers.
We have researched the full ten years of the Ruth-Gehrig association and can fully document their reputation as the games premier one-two punch. This is true even though they were 8 years apart in age, and Gehrig had a breaking in process and Ruth a fading out process that had to be factored into their decade together. Therefore, they didn't always bat third and fourth. Bob Meusel was between them sometime and so was Tony Lazzeri. Nevertheless they hit homers in the same inning 19 times, and in the same game 72 times.
Actually, if we extend this review to World Series games, the totals would be increased to 21 and 74. In the final game of the 1928 Series with the Cardinals, Ruth hit three homers and Gehrig one, including back-to-back in the 7th off Willie Sherdel. In the third game of the 1932 Series with the Cubs, they each hit two. They were back to back in the 5th, when Ruth supposedly pointed out where he was going to belt one off Charlie Root and Lou apparently liked the spot himself. All four of those homers came off Root.
Obviously, in the 74 games, Ruth and Gehrig did not limit themselves to one homer each. There total output was 88 for Lou and 86 for the Babe. Not all their victims were name pitchers, of course, but they did connect off such worthies as Lefty Grove, Ted Lyons, Red Faber, Wes Ferrell, Earl Whitehill, Mel Harder, Jack Quinn, and Red Ruffing.
It would be too lengthy a list to run all the 74 entries where Ruth and Gehrig connected in the same game. However, the reader could get some flavor of their twin assaults by reviewing a list of the contests where they connected in the same inning as well as those games where they had multiple homers.