Reggie Jackson once said, “God do I love to hit that little round son-of-a-bitch out of the park and make ‘em say ‘Wow!’” Home runs have the propensity to wow us.

Baseball is America’s sport no matter what football fans try to argue. There are 162 baseball games a year(more games in a season than any other sport and more for the fan to enjoy) and most stadiums hold between 35,000 and 55,000 fans. Even with so many games, most stadiums are full every night. Over the course of a year, teams will have from two to four million fans buying tickets. That is a lot of love of baseball and just one of the reasons we call it our pastime.

I haven’t met a fan yet who didn’t like home runs. In baseball, a hitter can do several things at the plate. Ideally, he wants to get a hit and those come in four varieties: a single, a double, a triple, or a home run. Nothing is better than the home run. When someone hits a single or a double, there is a bit of cheering, but when someone steps up to the plate and hits a towering shot, the whole stadium seems to hold its breath. And then when the ball clears the fence, everybody goes wild.

We all remember famous home runs. The shot heard round the world. Reggie Jackson’s three shots during the sixth game of the 1977 World Series. Babe Ruth’s pointing at the bleachers and then hitting a home run right in that spot. Kirk Gibson’s pinch hit home run that came when he could barely stand in the batter’s box his legs hurt so much. Mickey Mantle’s sweet home run swing and mammoth moon shots. Hank Aaron’s home run record. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s single season home run chase in 1998. Yes, home runs are majestic and we remember them.

We love home runs because there is nothing better. I suppose it is like watching a swan swimming across a clear pond and thinking that a bird couldn’t look prettier. Or maybe it is like a sunny day with a blue sky and temperatures in the high seventies. You can’t get much better than that. Likewise, it is hard to want more than a home run. And it is hard to look bad when you hit a home run. It might even be a physical impossibility. For one moment in time, no one can find fault with your performance at the plate no matter how bad you are the rest of the time. That one swing was perfect.

With one swing a home run can change a game and a fan base. With one swing you can be a hero. I think we miss having heroes. We miss having people that capture our imaginations with great and impossible deeds. In the old days a man could become a hero by the might of his sword. But in this modern world we no longer use swords. The bat is not a bad replacement for a sword. It can certainly do some damage and make us sit up and say ‘wow’ and hope it happens again soon.

Where we once had King Arthur and Lancelot and Gawain and Tristan, we now have Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Mark McGwire. We still have heroes and majestic swings.

© Seth Crossman