October 6, 1926: Babe Ruth sets a World Series Record
On October 6, 1926, Yankee slugger Babe Ruth hits a record three homers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth game of the World Series. The Yanks won the game 10-5, but despite Ruth’s unprecedented performance, they lost the championship in the seventh game. In 1928, in the fourth game of another Yanks-Cards World Series, Ruth tied his own record, knocking three more pitches out of the same park.
The 1926 championship promised to be an exciting one. The AL champs had a powerful lineup, later called the “Murderer’s Row,” that included the great Babe, the young “Columbia Lou” Gehrig, and the leadoff man Earle Combs. For their part, the Cardinals had the intimidating Rogers Hornsby along with ace pitchers Flint Rhem and Bill Sherdel.
But the Yanks were heavily favored, and they won the first game easily. They lost the second, though, thanks to an outstanding full-game performance from St. Louis pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. The next day, Cardinal Jessie Haines pitched the whole game–and hit the only home run–in his team’s 4-0 Game 3 victory.
By the fourth game in the series, the underdog Cards were up two games to one. The Yanks needed to pull it together, and for one game, they did. Veteran Waite Hoyt pitched all nine innings while St. Louis shuffled through its entire bullpen. And the Babe–the Sultan of Swat, the Caliph of Clout, the Wali of Wallop–hit his three homers and led the Yanks to a 10-5 victory. Unfortunately for the Bombers, that game didn’t decide the series. Though they won the next game in 10 innings, they lost the next one by eight runs. And they were losing the seventh game by one run in the ninth inning when the Bambino stepped to the plate again. With a 3-2 count, Ruth drew his eleventh walk of the series and trotted off to first base. The Yanks’ hopes plummeted as quickly as they’d risen, though, when second baseman Hornsby nabbed him as he tried somewhat ploddingly to steal second. The game was over. Thanks to the magical Bambino, the Bombers had lost. On October 18, 1977, Yankee Reggie Jackson became only the second player to hit three homers in a single Series game.