Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. – Mark Twain
Who hit the longest home run in the history of baseball?
Mickey Mantle in Clark Griffith Stadium in 1953? Ryan Howard at Citizens Bank Park in 2006? Those home runs were measured in feet. Years ago I learned about another baseball debate: the home run measured in miles.
I first learned about “the longest home run” legend in Ed Linn’s book “Hitter: the Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams.” Linn writes that Williams once hit a home run in San Diego onto a train and the feat went into “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” as the longest home run ever. That inspired “The Longest Home Run.”
The longest home run ever has been attributed to numerous hitters: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Honus Wagner included. All these batters were rumored to have hit a baseball out of the park and onto a train, the distance the train traveled then added to their record.
Honus Wagner’s granddaughter recalls his descriptions of how he hit the longest home run out of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Wagner was one of the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame with Babe Ruth. Read the brief article about Wagner’s longest home run here.
In “The Longest Home Run,” ten-year-old Joe hits a baseball onto a train as well. Joe and his best friend Jack imagine the home run touring the entire United States, eclipsing all previous records. The home run sparks an uproar of excitement, controversy, and curiosity in their hometown and leads them behind the scenes of the civil rights movement. Joe and Jack learn an essential lesson from the home run that inspires their patriotism and broadens their horizons in their imagination and ambition. The home run awakens the boys and their neighbors to the excitement of traveling America and it helps them to overcome their prejudice.