On August 1, 1945, the baseball world bowed to the Master; Mel Ott became the third player in Major League Baseball history and the first National League player to hit 500 home runs.
“Master Melvin,” 36 at the time, was a dominant force for the New York Giants in the 1930s and on into the early 1940s, having been a key part of the Giants’ run to the 1933 World Series before beginning a string of 11 consecutive All-Star Game appearances (and would have had a 12th if the 1945 game hadn’t been canceled due to wartime travel restrictions) that featured NL pennants for the Giants in 1936 and 1937. 1945 proved to be Ott’s last full season in the Majors; he played just 35 more games total in 1946 and 1947, last playing on July 11th, 1947, with a final home run total of 511. He retired behind only Willie Foxx and Babe Ruth on the all-time list, but has since fallen to 25th, most recently being passed by Albert Pujols on July 9.
Mick Gillispie told the story of the left-handed slugger’s 500th home run during the sixth inning of Tennessee’s game with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Friday.