1971 American League All-Stars (from left) Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson each hit two-run home runs in a 6-4 win over the National League in Detroit. Getty Images

Blasts from past: Reggie Jackson's monster '71 All-Star HR an all-timer

At the All-Star Game in Detroit on July 13, 1971, Reggie Jackson hit one of the more memorable homers in big league history -- a monster shot that nearly left Tiger Stadium.

The Oakland outfielder was a late addition to the American League team, added when Minnesota's Tony Oliva dropped out because of a knee injury. Jackson himself was dealing with his own injury, a sore hamstring. But after a lackluster 1970 campaign, Jackson jumped at the opportunity to showcase his stuff on the national stage. 

As it turned out, the AL was fortunate to have the 25-year-old slugger, a future Hall of Famer.

The National League, which had won nine straight All-Star games, jumped to a 3-0 lead. "When we fell behind 3-0, we said, 'Oh, oh. Here they go again,'" Baltimore's Frank Robinson said.

In the bottom of the third, AL manager Earl Weaver pinch-hit Jackson for pitcher Vida Blue of the A's, and Reggie stole the show.

Jackson crushed a pitch from Pittsburgh's Dock Ellis to right field, nearly sending it out of ancient Tiger Stadium. The ball struck the light tower, high above the grandstand, the only reason it didn't travel 600 feet or more.

"It was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen," said Harmon Killebrew of the Twins.

"You'll never see five balls hit like that in a lifetime," said the Washington Senators' Frank Howard, who knew all about hitting massive home runs. (The 6-foot-7, 255-pounder jacked 382 dingers during his 16-year career in the majors.)

The home run was the turning point in the American League's 6-4 win. And it may have been the beginning of Jackson becoming a household name among fans.

With his majestic blast as inspiration, let's take a look at other tape- measure blasts over the years.


At the end of the 1956 season, manager Casey Stengel yukked it up with Mickey Mantle after the Yankees' star won the Triple Crown. On May 30, 1956, Mantle hit a homer that almost left Yankee Stadium.  Bob Gilman / Getty Images

1. Mickey Mantle, May 30, 1956

There isn't much the Yankees' legend didn't accomplish on a baseball field during his Hall of Fame career. The slugger was especially known for moonshot homers. In 1956, he eviscerated an offering from the Senators' Pedro Ramos. Had the ball not hit the Yankee Stadium facade in right field, it was estimated it would have traveled 620 feet. Believe it or not. Interestingly, another Mantle blast provided inspiration for the term "tape-measure home run." 


The front page of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph sports section on May 26, 1935, trumpeted Babe Ruth's remarkable, three-homer game. Ruth played for the National's League's Boston Braves in 1935, the final season of his 22-year big-league career.

2. Babe Ruth, May 25, 1935

How can you have a legendary home run list and not include the Babe? Playing for the Boston Braves against the Pirates, Ruth went out with a bang. Struggling mightily at age 40 in what proved to be his final week in the majors, the Bambino went 4-for-4 with three homers. The last one was particularly memorable, clearing the right-field roof at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field -- the first time the feat was accomplished. The towering shot was Ruth's 714th, and final, homer of his major league career. 

3.  Mark McGwire, May 16, 1998

Big Mac's '98 campaign was obviously memorable -- it was recently recounted by ESPN. The mammoth right-handed hitter hit 583 homers during his career, but this one against Florida's Livan Hernandez stands out for length, traveling an estimated 545 feet to dead-center field. At the time, it was the longest home run in Busch Stadium history.

4.  Mo Vaughn, June 26, 2002

When the Mets acquired Vaughn in the early part of the previous decade, they hoped the left-handed hitter would become a menacing force in the middle of their lineup. That didn't happen, but on one day in late June 2002, he was a one-man wrecking crew. After homering earlier in the game, Vaughn blasted a pitch from Atlanta reliever Kevin Gryboski into orbit. The eye-opening moonshot crashed about halfway up the 86-foot-high Shea Stadium scoreboard. Estimated distance: 505 feet.

5. Daryl Strawberry, April 4, 1988

Sticking with the Mets, their right fielder during the mid-'80s, Daryl Strawberry, produced one of the more impressive -- and confusing -- home runs in recent memory. After already leaving the yard against Montreal starter Dennis Martinez, Strawberry crushed a pitch from reliever Randy St. Claire high into right field on opening day. Most fans watched the right-field stands for the ball to land, but it slammed into a light fixture affixed to the roof of Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Strawberry briefly stopped at second before the umpires awarded him a home run. 

6. Adam Dunn, Aug. 10, 2004

The longtime Reds slugger was known for his herculean bombs, but this one stands in a category of its own. Facing veteran Jose Lima of the Dodgers, Dunn crushed what still stands as the longest home run at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The blast eluded the television cameras, but it's believed to have touched down on Mehring Way outside the stadium before rolling much farther. It was ultimately found resting on a piece of driftwood on the banks of the Ohio River. How's that for a story?

7. Giancarlo Stanton, Aug. 6, 2016

Few MLB players possess the raw power Stanton does. That, combined with the thin air in Denver, was a perfect recipe for an absolutely eye-popping bomb. In the fifth inning of a tie game at Coors Field, the future NL MVP took Rockies righty Chad Bettis deep to left-center. Colorado players could do nothing more than watch as the blast traveled 20+ rows into the stands. Estimated distance for the Miami slugger's homer: 504 feet.


Hall of Famer Willie Stargell hit 475 home runs during his career, all with the Pirates. Bettmann/Contributor (Via Getty Images)

8. Willie Stargell, May 20, 1978

The most famous Pirate save for maybe Roberto Clemente, Stargell was known for monstrous home runs. But one stands above the rest. In a game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Stargell crushed a ball an estimated 535 feet into right field. At the time, the homer was the farthest hit in the stadium's history. Speaking about Stargell's power, Hall of Famer Don Sutton famously once said, "He doesn't just hit pitchers, he takes away their dignity."

9. Kyle Schwarber, Oct. 7, 2015

In the National League wild-card game, the Cubs' rookie hit a ball about as square as any hitter has against Gerrit Cole. With Chicago ahead, Schwarber took the Pirates' ace deep, deep, deep to right at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The ball splashed into the Allegheny River. Statcast, which was relatively new at the time, measured the drive at 450 feet and recorded a chilling exit velocity of 111.3 mph. The Cubs won the game to advance to the NLDS.

10. Yoenis Cespedes, June 30, 2016

Cespedes' power is certainly no secret. When he played for the A's in 2013, he put on a power show at the 2013 home run derby at the All-Star Game at Citi Field. With the Mets four years ago, he destroyed a pitch from Cubs righty John Lackey. The ball landed in the third deck at Citi Field, an estimated 440-foot dinger. The right-handed-hitting slugger re-energized the crowd, stole a piece of Lackey's soul, and changed the momentum in a game the Mets won, 4-3.

11. Jim Thome, July 3, 1999

Thome was one of the most feared left-handed power threats in the American League for a long time, and here's some visual evidence of why. In the second game of a doubleheader against the Royals at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Thome sent an OPPOSITE FIELD blast an estimated 511 feet. The Indian's homer remains the longest at Progressive Field. There's a statue of Thome, Cleveland's all-time home run leader, near the landing spot.

12. Ted Williams, June 9, 1946

The Splendid Splinter is well known among baseball fans as the last player to hit over .400, in 1941. But he had more power than some casual fans remember. That was on full display in a game midway through the '46 season at Fenway Park. Facing the Tigers, the Red Sox's star took Fred Hutchinson way out to right field -- comically, the ball hit a fan's straw hat. A red seat at Fenway Park marks where the dinger landed, an estimated 502 feet from home. There's no known video of the epic Williams home run, so enjoy this footage of the two dingers he hit in the '46 All-Star Game.

Justin Mears is a freelance sports writer from Long Beach Island, NJ. Enjoys being frustrated by the Mets and Cowboys, reading Linwood Barclay novels, and being yelled at by his toddler son. Follow him on twitter @justinwmears



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