Feature

Chuck Stobbs

The pitcher who gave up baseball’s longest home run

The pitcher who gave up baseball’s longest home run
Chuck Stobbs
1929–2008

Chuck Stobbs, who has died of throat cancer at 79, won 107 games as a Major League pitcher. But he is best remembered for his moment of ignominy on April 17, 1953. On that day, Mickey Mantle blasted a 565-foot hit off him that is generally regarded as the longest home run ever. “That’s one day I’d like to forget,” Stobbs said a few years ago. “But nobody lets me.”

An outstanding high school athlete in Norfolk, Va., Stobbs was an all-state quarterback who led his team to three consecutive state championships, said The Virginian-Pilot. He was also a two-time all-state basketball player and an all-American in baseball. “Colleges took notice of Stobbs,” but he turned down all scholarship offers to join the Boston Red Sox, pitching in his first big-league game when he was 18. After five years with Boston and one with the Chicago White Sox, he was traded to the Washington Senators.

It was during his very first appearance at the Senators’ Griffith Stadium, facing the New York Yankees with two outs in the top of the fifth, that Stobbs went down in baseball history, said The Washington Post. “Mantle hit his second pitch, a chest-high fastball, over the left-center field wall, 391 feet from home plate.” Still soaring beyond the last row in the bleachers, “it knocked some black paint off the edge of a National Bohemian beer sign and kept going.” It finally came to rest in the backyard of a house across the street. Although some questioned whether the homer had really traveled 565 feet, Stobbs became enshrined as “a hard-luck symbol of the team’s futility.” For the record, the Yankees won the game 7–3.

Stobbs continued in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Twins before retiring at 31. Later, he coached at George Washington University and sold insurance. But his memories of Mantle always haunted him. “Somebody just sent me a blank piece of paper and asked me to fill out my recollections of that homer,” he said in 1993. “I sent it back blank.”

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