Baseball Odyssey: Uncovering Babe Ruth’s Lost Home Run

For one week in 1969, a team of researchers uncovered Babe Ruth’s lost home run and MLB officially recognized 715 as Ruth’s career total. It has since been reverted back to 714.

David Neft is an American pioneer best known for gathering a team of researchers to create the first ever comprehensive Baseball Encyclopedia. In doing so, for one week, way back in 1969, after Neft’s team of researchers uncovered Babe Ruth’s lost home run (HR), The Baseball Encyclopedia was to officially recognize 715 as Babe Ruth‘s actual career HR total.

Soon thereafter, a committee voted to return Ruth’s record to 714.

Babe Ruth Retires No. 3 1949 Pulitzer Prize, Photography, Nathaniel Fein, New York Herald Tribune. Ruth's Lost Home Run.
Babe Ruth Retires No. 3
1949 Pulitzer Prize, Photography, Nathaniel Fein, New York Herald Tribune.

When David Neft and his researchers went on this journey to create the first ever electronically type-set book of comprehensive baseball stats, they never anticipated to uncover Babe Ruth’s lost HR.  Having been given MLB’s blessing to alter statistics where they saw fit, when it came time to increase the “Babe’s” home run total by one to 715, Neft and his team thought nothing of it.

In fact, it wasn’t just Ruth’s record that stood to be changed. There were 36 other cases where a players total was to be increased by one. Ruth, however, was what got this story out in the media, creating a firestorm of sorts.

Imagine turning on SportsCenter today and learning that one of baseball’s most hallowed records was to be changed? All hell would break loose.

Many stats would be changed with Neft’s Baseball Encyclopedia. In fact, Joe Posnanski illustrates in a piece he wrote for mlb.com how Cap Anson’s hits total was reduced and Christy Matthewson lost wins in the drafting of this encyclopedia. None of this caused the ruckus that Babe Ruth’s lost home run did.

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Author: Manny Gómez

Having grown up in Washington Heights, a small Dominican neighborhood just one mile away from Yankee Stadium, Manny is a life-long Yankees fan. He began pursuing his passion for writing about baseball in March 2018 when he co-founded a small baseball media company called Welcome to THE SHOW. Manny is also a contributor at Call to the Pen. Follow Manny on twitter @MannyGo3.

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