As I describe on my website, mariebiro.com, several baseball players claim to have hit the longest home run in baseball history. Ed Linn described Ted Williams’ home run in “Hitter: The Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams.”
Honus Wagner, one of the first five inductees along with Babe Ruth into the Baseball Hall of Fame, also shared the legend. In the following newspaper article from the New York Star-News (Sep 29, 1995), Wagner’s granddaughter Leslie Blair states that he told her he hit a similar longest home run. (See the entire article here.)
One can almost envision Wagner entertaining his granddaughter with the legend. (Maybe on a sunny front porch with lemonade and rocking chairs) What is notable about this article is that players like Wagner realized the potential of the longest home run legend to awaken the imagination of young people and inspire them. The story holds a natural, intrinsic appeal to young readers that I try to capture in my books on the legend.
Wagner’s legend was also integrated with train folklore in early American history. Corbis images has a picture of Wagner recreating the moment he got onboard a train to play Major League baseball. “Fifty-four years ago a youngster with nothing but hope and the ability to play baseball climbed aboard a train caboose at Pittsburgh to bum a ride to Steubenville to seek his fortune on the diamond.” (See the picture here.)
In addition to “The Home Run That Tours America” I am developing several learning books to go with the longest home run education materials, including a book about Honus Wagner’s longest home run.
In early baseball, players traveled to games by train. For many of these players, these train rides were the first glimpse of a world outside the towns where they grew up. With the longest home run legend, I try to capture the awe that these players had and transpose it onto a modern era. I empower the characters in my book to realize that awe themselves while awakening their patriotism and ambition. (Though of course they are inspired by legends like Wagner.)
Copyright 2013 Marie Biro