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Major League Baseball’s 12 Hugest Home Runs

The Home Run Derby has nothing on these bombastic blasts

baseball homerun

Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post

These days, baseball tracks each foul tip and every scratch of a pitcher's crotch, but one aspect of the record-keeping remains janky: the distance of home runs.

Although it seems like basic Newtonian physics, nobody can quite agree on the calculations when a batted ball soars over a wall; when figuring just how far a four-bagger may have gone, every ballpark does it differently. (Many of the homers touted as being 500-feet-plus may actually be more in the neighborhood of 440 feet – which is still a really long way.) But in honor of the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby, here are a dozen of the longest dingers ever hit in games.

These aren't the most historic homers by any stretch; instead, we're valuing titanic tape-measure blasts over crucial moments in game play – sorry, Carlton Fisk. By Gavin Edwards

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Ted Williams, 1946

Section 42, row 37, seat 21: that's where you'll find the red seat at Fenway Park marking the location where Ted Williams jacked a ball an estimated 502 feet in June 1946 before it fell on the head of one Joe Boucher, a construction engineer, knocking a hole in his straw hat and bouncing up another 12 rows. "How far away must one sit to be safe in this park?" Boucher asked. He didn't even get to take the ball as a souvenir, saying "after it hit my head, I was no longer interested."

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Reggie Jackson, 1971

Reggie Jackson, then 25 years old and representing the Oakland A's in his second All-Star Game, faced off against Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis – who didn't take LSD that day, but must have felt like he was on a bad trip. Jackson's homer slammed the transformer on a light tower on top of Tiger Stadium: if not for that obstacle, it was estimated the ball might have gone 539 feet, the longest in All-Star Game history.

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Dave Kingman, 1979

An epic, extra-innings slugger's duel in May 1979: the Phillies hit five home runs, including two by Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, but the Cubs hit six, including three by powerhouse Dave Kingman. Kong's third homer, seen here, was a titanic blast that not only left Wrigley Field, but landed three-houses deep on Waveland Avenue, over 500 feet away. Neither starting pitcher lasted more than a third of an inning. The final score: Phillies 23, Cubs 22.

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Bo Jackson, 1986

His career ended prematurely because of a hip injury, but for a few years in the '80s, Bo Jackson was one of the most exciting athletes on the planet: a Heisman Trophy winner who decided to play baseball, an amazing physical specimen who snapped bats over his helmet (!) like they were matchsticks, the only person ever to be an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. Jackson's very first home run, in September 1986, was a moon shot calculated at 475 feet, the longest blast ever in Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium.

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Jose Canseco, 1989

In the fourth game of the 1989 ALCS between the A's and the Blue Jays, former Madonna hookup Jose Canseco ignored the "steroids" chants and hit a rocket into the fifth deck of the Toronto SkyDome (which is about as upper as a deck can get). "That wasn't just a home run," said Billy Beane (then an A's reserve, later the team's general manager), "It was a home run of biblical proportion." Canseco, normally not a modest sort, demurred: "I put a good follow-through on it, but I really didn't hit it that well. It was an inside fastball that I hit off my wrists." Asked if the homer would enhance his reputation, he replied, "I have so many reputations that it depends on which one you're talking about."

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Cecil Fielder, 1990

These days, Prince Fielder reliably lights up the Home Run Derby – following in the tradition of his father, who racked up some humongous homers in the '90s. Only three players ever hit the roof at Tiger Stadium, mammoth sluggers all: Harmon Killebrew, Frank Howard, and in August 1990, Cecil Fielder. "That one was the longest ever hit off me," said the A's All-Star pitcher, Dave Stewart. "You got a chance to send a package to Paris on that one."

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Andres Galarraga, 1997

In the history of Major League Baseball, 51 men have hit 400 or more home runs. Andres Galarraga just missed that club with 399 lifetime four-baggers – but really, this one from May 1997 should have counted twice. The Big Cat hit a grand slam that landed halfway in the upper deck of Miami's Pro Player Stadium, with an estimated length of 529 feet, a record-breaker for both the stadium and the Rockies franchise. Four innings later, Galarraga got ejected from the game – he charged the mound after he got hit by a pitch.

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Mark McGwire, 1997

Thor versus Superman. Irresistible force versus immovable object. Popeye versus the Big Unit. When Mark McGwire faced off against Randy Johnson, fans expected either a dramatic strikeout or a dramatic home run. In 49 matchups between the two, there were 18 strikeouts and three homers – and in June 1997, they got a blast that was estimated to be the longest ever hit in the Seattle Kingdome. The two players, former USC teammates, tipped their hats to each other at the end of the inning. After the game, Johnson showed reporters a photograph that he kept in his locker: McGwire, surrounded by police crime-scene tape.

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Darryl Strawberry, 1998

By June 1998, Darryl Strawberry, star Mets slugger of the '80s, had bounced around the league and been suspended for cocaine. But even in his final seasons with the Yankees, he had some pop: check out this estimated 465-foot blast against the Orioles, which set the record for the longest homer ever at Camden Yards. "It went a long way," said pitcher Mike Mussina. "If you're going to give them up, you might as well give them up like that." It wasn't even Strawberry's longest shot of the day – in batting practice, he launched one 480 feet.

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Glenallen Hill, 2000

Glenallen Hill came up to the plate angry on this May afternoon in 2000: he had muffed a fly ball in the second inning, letting it bounce off his glove. "I was so mad, I swear I was blind," he explained. "Nine out of ten times when you come to the plate like that, you don't get a hit. But when you do, it's perfect." With one quick, furious swing, he hit the ball out of Wrigley Field and on top of a neighboring three-story building– maybe a longer blast than Kingman's 1979 homer, although Hill's was estimated at "only" 490 feet. Hill scoffed at that number. "Try 700 feet," he said. "Seriously."

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Adam Dunn, 2004

In August 2004, Adam Dunn not only hit this baseball over the fence and the batter's eye, he hit it out of the park entirely. According to witnesses, after it left the Great American Ball Park (in Cincinnati), the blast touched the ground about 535 feet from home plate. It then skittered along a street called Mehring Way for about 200 more feet before coming to rest on a piece of driftwood on the banks of the Ohio River. But as it happens, that particular patch of the river is under the jurisdiction of Kentucky, which makes Adam Dunn the only major leaguer to hit a home run that went into another state.

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Albert Pujols, 2009

Shades of The Natural: Albert Pujols hit a massive upper-deck home run in May 2009 that broke the "I" in the electric "BIG MAC" sign at Busch Stadium. Pujols not only gave the Cardinals the first-inning lead against the Cubs, he made a statement rich in symbolism. Depending on how you interpret it, he either symbolically dispatched the Cardinals' greatest slugger before him (Mark McGwire) or delivered an important message about the semiotics of teamwork: not only is there no "I" in "TEAM," there's no "I" in "BIG MAC."

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