What’s an inside-the-park homer?

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The inside-the-park home run, where a batter runs around the bases without hitting the ball out of play, was more common in baseball’s dead ball era due to larger stadiums. It is now rare, but can occur from odd bounces or fielding errors. Ty Cobb holds the American League record for career inside-the-park home runs.

In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on the home run in professional baseball, both as a spectacle for fans and record-chasing athletes. Indeed, as one of the most exciting aspects of the game, the home run has found favor with fans and players alike, but one of the less common types of home runs has become increasingly rare as the game has evolved: the infield home run. home run is a home run in which the batter does not actually hit the ball out of play, but rather manages to run around the bases and score before the fielders can put him out.

The inside-the-park home run was much more common during baseball’s dead ball era, or the time period between 1900 and 1920, right around the time Babe Ruth started hitting. The dead ball era featured lower scoring games and fewer home runs, but the inside-the-park home run was more common, in part because stadiums were much larger and had more area for their outfields, allowing hitters to capitalize on when defenders had to travel great distances to field the ball. A batter would have to touch every base, just like a single, double, or triple, and reach home plate to score an inside-the-park home run.

While less common today, home runs still occur within the park. An odd bounce off an outfield fence could lead to such a home run; more common, however, is a situation where two outfielders try to field the same fly ball and end up either colliding or allowing the ball to drop and roll past, giving the batter time to get the bases round. An inside-the-park home run is also possible if a fielder misplays a ball and moves to a part of the field unattended by any player. Because ballparks are typically smaller today than they have been historically, the number of in-park home runs has decreased significantly.

Ty Cobb holds the American League record for career inside the park with 46 home runs, and he led the league in home runs in 1909 – all nine were inside the park. He was the first and only player in the modern era to lead the league in home runs without actually hitting a ball out of the park. An inside-the-park grand slam home run is even rarer; Honus Wagner holds the career record for inside-the-park grand slam home runs with five.

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