Thursday, July 23, 2009

St. Louis Born Home Run Hitters

Q. - During the telecast of the All-Star Game Tuesday night, they flashed one of those pieces of trivia on the screen that always make you wonder about how they can possibly keep track of all that stuff. It said that on a list of all pro baseball players born in St. Louis, Ryan Howard ranks third in career home runs. My question, of course, is who are the top two?
-- S.L., of Fairview Heights

A. - In only his sixth pro season, the 29-year-old Phillie slugger has ripped 200 homers (as of Thursday) faster than anyone in baseball history. But he's going to have to keep eating his Wheaties if he's going to surpass the two in front of him, one of whom should be familiar to any fan while the other might have you reaching for a baseball encyclopedia.

At the top of heap is that legendary master of the malapropism, Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, who, by some accounts, is the best catcher ever to wear the tools of ignorance. One of the great products of The Hill neighborhood, Berra ripped 358 home runs during 18 seasons in his Yankee pinstripes. (Click on photos to enlarge)

Give up on the second? It's Roy Sievers, a St. Louis Browns signee, who, after some early arm and shoulder injuries, starred for the Washington Senators and became a favorite of then Vice President Richard Nixon. Before he retired in 1965, Sievers would belt 318 home runs during stints with five teams.

And, what local sluggers has Ryan Howard belted his way past already? Those who hit more than 100 were Nate Colbert, 173; Elston Howard, 167; Al Smith (of Kirkwood, Mo.), 164; Norm Siebern, 132; and former St. Louis Cardinal Bernard Gilkey, 118.

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