Friday, May 25, 2012

The franchise home run list

Justin Morneau cranks out the first of his two home runs
on Thursday. It was estimated at 451 feet, and ESPN
reported that it was the longest lefty-on-lefty homer of 2012.
Justin Morneau hit a pair of homers Thursday, which prompted a tweet from Dustin Morse noting that Morneau (193) had tied and passed Torii Hunter for seventh on the Twins all-time HR list.

Note the wording: The Twins list, not the franchise list. The Twins have been in Minnesota since 1961, which is a good stretch of years, but still shy of the 60 years in Washington.

When the Twins talk about their all-time leaders, they generally don't include the years in Washington. The all-time Twins leader in pitching wins, therefore, is Jim Kaat, with 190. But if you include the Senators years, it's Walter Johnson with 411. (Kaat's still second, and being second to the Big Train is no embarrassment.)

But when it comes to home runs, the Minnesota list is pretty much the franchise list. You have to get down to ninth on the list to find a player (Roy Sievers) whose career predated the shift to Minnesota.

The reason: Griffith Stadium. The long-departed Washington park was emphatically not conducive to power hitters. For most of its existence, it was 405 feet down the left field line — and got deeper from there. Right field wasn't so spacious, but it did sport a 30-foot wall.

In 1945, the Senators hit one home run at home all season — and it was an inside-the-parker. Sam Rice, who starred for Washington for 19 years and made the Hall of Fame, never hit a ground-rule homer in Griffith.

When Calvin Griffith inherited the team, he shortened the fences and made life a bit easier for right-handed sluggers like Sievers, Jim Lemon and a youngster named Killebrew.

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