The longest home runs hit at Tiger Stadium in Detroit

I could hit for average, but that’s not my job. I’m here to drive home runs.

Cecil Fielder

In 1921 there was no SportsCenter, no 24-hour highlight machine called the Internet. If you wanted to see a home run, you had to waddle your butt down to a baseball diamond somewhere and hope a skinny batter wearing a wool uniform would swat the ball over the fence. It was a rarity.

In 1921, major league teams averaged 59 home runs. That’s 59 home runs for each team for the entire season. Only six batters hit as many as 20 homers that year. So, you didn’t have much of a chance to see a four-bagger back in those days.

That’s one of the reasons fans in Detroit were dumbfounded on July 18, when “The Big Fella,” a muscular slugger for the Yankees named Babe Ruth, did something no one had ever done before. That afternoon, facing Ty Cobb and the Tigers, Ruth smacked a pitch so high, so far, that the baseball must have looked like a distant star to the sparse crowd of about 3,000 who were in Navin Field, which is what the ballpark later known as Tiger Stadium was known as then.

Back in ’21, Navin Field did not yet have the upper deck in center field that would later be a haven for diehard fans. The baseball traveled past the flag pole located in deep center field, over the head of Charles “Chick” Shorten, over the lower deck, which undoubtedly had only a smattering of fans, and out onto the street. Reportedly, the baseball landed across the intersection of Cherry and Trumbull. It’s estimated that the Babe’s blast traveled at least 575 feet in the air. Probably well over 600 feet in total.

“There was never anyone like the Babe,” said teammate Herb Pennock, “and to have seen him was to see a legend.”

Ruth’s mammoth homer is the only ball to be confirmed to have left Navin Field/Briggs Stadium/Tiger Stadium in center field.

Gibby’s Blast at The Corner

In the years he played for his hometown team, Kirk Gibson frequently displayed his power. A former football player, Gibby was sort of like a tight end without the shoulder pads in the outfield for Detroit. A few times, he was able to send the baseball up and out of Tiger Stadium with his left-handed swing.

On June 14, 1983, Gibson belted a blast over the right field roof against the Red Sox. It was later measured to be a 523-foot homer, with the ball landing on the lumber yard across the street from the stadium.

Big Daddy sends it over the left field roof

Not since Hank Greenberg in the 1940s, had Tiger fans seen a power hitter like Cecil Fielder. The big guy came to Detroit in 1990 as a free agent after a season in Japan. In his first season wearing the Old English D, “Big Daddy” hit 51 homers. This one went over the left field roof, off Oakland’s Dave Stewart.

Only four players have been confirmed to hit a ball over the left field roof at Tiger Stadium in Detroit: Cecil Fielder, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Howard.

Others to clear the roof at Tiger Stadium

  • Mickey Mantle: On September 10, 1960, the Yankee slugger hit a home run out of Tiger Stadium against Frank Lary. Later measurement revealed the ball traveled close to 600 feet. Some call this the longest home run ever hit.
  • Reggie Jackson: Reggie’s blast in the 1971 All-Star Game was headed out of Tiger Stadium, but it hit a transformer on the right field roof.
  • Norm Cash: the Detroit first baseman hit four balls out of Tiger Stadium, which is probably the record. One of his homers in 1961 is reported to have traveled over the center field scoreboard and exited the ballpark. But there are conflicting reports on whether the baseball cleared and left the stadium.

What are your home run memories of Tiger Stadium? Tell us in the comments.

18 replies on “The longest home runs hit at Tiger Stadium in Detroit

  • Mike H.

    I saw Jason “Rooftop “ Thompson hit one out of Tiger Stadium over right center field off of Dick Tidrow of the Yankees. Must have been 1977 or 1978.

  • Chris Guyor

    As a lifelong Tigers fan, I have been fortunate enough to see two players clear the fence. The second one was Gibby’s blast in 1983, when some friends and I got bleacher tickets, and sat dead center, giving us a great view of the ball as it sailed out of the ballpark. The first time, though, was in 1977, when Jason Thompson clubbed one out, literally seconds after my dad told me “I think Thompson is gonna crush one out of the stadium”. Thompson was my favorite player at the time, so it was an awesome moment, to be sure. He actually did it twice that season, the first of two straight seasons he was an All-Star for the Tigers.

  • J.B. Braga

    I seem to recall Big Frank Howard (Hondo) of the Washington Senators, blast one over the left field roof sometime between 1966 and 68 (I think). Also I remember that it was thought to be a greater fete to hit one over the left field roof than in right field.

  • Talbert Michael

    Jose Canseco hit a home run to center field lower deck. Later in the same game, Cecil Fielder hit a home run over the left field roof to show Canseco who was stronger.

  • Steven Slivensky

    As a kid in May 1967? I saw Frank Howard hit his homer over the left field wall in Tiger stadium. At the time, we did not know what a big deal that was. I think the Tigers won that game in the bottom of the 9th, when they were losing but then Jim Northrup hit a grand slam to win the game. I grew up in Bridgeport Michigan.

    What a great game!
    I also saw Reggie Jackson with the A’s strike out about 3 times late in the 1969 season at Tiger Stadium. On the first strike out , he threw his bat, so the fans were booing loudly, and banging the wood seats each time he came up to bat! Each time the noise grew louder and louder!

  • Mlke Fried

    On July 6, 1996 Carlos Delgado hit the ball OVER the right center light tower completely into orbit. I read that the ball nearly hit a police car on Trumbull ave.That is the longest HR i ever witnessed in person. The winning pitcher that day for the Blue Jays was Pat Hentgen of Fraser.

    • Matthew J Fronimos

      Mike, I was at that game in 1996 when Delgado hit that blast, sitting the Box Seats in the upper deck in right. The trajectory had it coming near me but it just never came down inside the ballpark! As I recall, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon that day.

  • Patrick Thomas

    No player has ever cleared the left field roof. Several players have landed balls in top of it images, but never completely over it in the air. Dozens of players have peppered the left field roof at batting practice, though. One of the hardest ever at the corner was a blast by Jimmie Foxx deep into left center, just to the left of the center field scoreboard. Landed in the last few rows one per deck bleachers. Ted Williams called it one of the hardest hit balls he’d ever seen.

  • Scott Kremser

    Reggie Jackson was the player who hit one over the right field roof while playing for the California Angels during the May 15, 1984 game at Tiger Stadium. It was the 485th home run of his career. Unlike the 1971 All Star game blast when his Famous homer hit the light tower in right center and came back onto the field, his 1984 blast TOTALLY cleared the roof and left the stadium. I remember watching the 1971 blast as a 12 year old on TV with my family living in Michigan at the time. One of the major highlights as a kid back then was that game and especially that Jackson blast that Curt Gowdy called for a national viewing audience. Reggie was one hell of a master blaster!!!!

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