NEW YORK (United Press) -- Playing his final game of the 1927 season, the king of home run hitters today will attempt to boost his new record to 61, or perhaps 62.
"I want to give them a mark to shoot at for all time to come," Babe Ruth said after he hit his 60th homer of the season yesterday against the Senators.
The blow came in the eighth inning and established a new world's record for home runs in one season. In 1921 Ruth hit 59 homers in a single season and baseball fans and experts agreed that the mark might stand forever. But not so.
It is 12 years since Babe started hitting home runs in the big leagues, and he has hit 416 of them. For the first three seasons, he averaged only three homers a season, for the Babe was then only a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox.
After Ruth turned outfielder and hit 29 homers in 1919, he was sold to the Yankees and has been hitting homers ever since.
His record homer was made off Tom Zachary, with Mark Koenig on third and one out, and broke a tie score. Zachary had been pitching well, but he hadn't been holding Ruth much, for two singles and a base on balls was the Babe's grist up to that time.
In the eighth Zachary sought to outwit Ruth with a screw ball, "a slow screw ball," as Ruth described it. The ball broke in to Ruth as a left-hander's screw ball would to a left-handed batter. The screw ball once upon a time was known as a fade-away. A right-hander breaks it in to a right-handed batter and a southpaw breaks it in to left-handed hitter. The idea was to break it in and down past the Babe.
This one broke over the plate and was a screw ball until it met the Babe's unruly bat. After that it was a minie ball. It didn't go high, and it did go on a line. Bill Dinneen, the umpire crouched on the foul line and peered carefully into the distance to see whether it was fair or foul. It buried itself in the bleachers fifteen rows from the top and was fair by not more than six inches. Still, it was fair, and the record was broken. Count 'em -- sixty!
Nobody ever got a livelier reception per capita than Ruth did as he paced around. The players rushed to congratulate the Babe. All of the fans, grandstand, bleachers and boxes, stood and cheered and waved their handkerchiefs. The crowd was small, the ovation deafening.
When the Babe crossed the plate he lifted his cap high and with the other hand waved a salute. He held his hand there in midair: "Well, folks, here we are. How about it, folks?"
The bleachers gave him an ovation all their own when he went out there after the inning, and he gave them a salute and a bow no less genuine and punctilious.