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Old 06-19-2006, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Babe Ruth, infield homerun hit?

In the movie, The Babe, it has a bit where Ruth hits a ball (essentially) straight up so hard that he has time to run home before it comes back to earth.

The Wikipedia article makes no mention of this occurence, and it seems rather hard to believe that one could keep a ball aloft that long.

So double question:
Did the Babe do it?
Regardless of whether he did it or not, what speed would the ball need to leave the bat to allow someone to make it around and back to home before it landed (including air resistance, minus wind)?
Old 06-19-2006, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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My calculations say 'no way'.

Total distance to run is 360 feet, or 120 yards. For a world-class sprinter, that's 12 seconds or so (leaving out the time it takes to drop the bat and start running, the time it takes to turn corners, and the fact that the Babe was never known as a world-class sprinter).

Air resistance will slow the ball down both coming up and down, but will have the biggest effect right as the ball leaves the bat. So overall, air resistance will make the ball come down faster. Therefore, leaving it out is more favorable to the batter.

Without air resistance, a ball straight up needs to be going 150 mph or so to come down in 12 seconds.

With a wooden bat, hitting straight in a line with the incoming pitch and the swing of the bat, that's still just about impossible. Straight up? No way, ever.

Besides, even if Ruth did hit it that high, wouldn't it just be a very high infield fly out?
Old 06-19-2006, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Quercus
Besides, even if Ruth did hit it that high, wouldn't it just be a very high infield fly out?
Depends on whether the defense catches it, or if the infield fly rule was in effect (it only applies in certain situations).
Old 06-19-2006, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Alabama, USA
Posts: 4,317
Here's what I read, in a Babe Ruth biography: Babe hit a tremendous pop-up, a truly awesome pop-up; the most awsomest pop-up ever hit, say the witnesses. The infielder making the play couldn't handle the ball, dropped it, and Babe was safe on first base. The official scorer ruled the play an error.

Later, after the game, Babe bitched at the scorer thusly: What do you have to do to get a hit in this league?

The scorer replied promptly: "Hit the ball out of the infield."

Perhaps the movie scene was inspired by this (maybe) true incident from a book.
Old 06-19-2006, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Illinois
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat
Did the Babe do it?
No. The incident in the movie is purest Hollywood horseradish.
Old 06-19-2006, 12:39 PM
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On the other hand, in Little League, I've seen a fly ball to the pitcher go for a homerun.
Old 06-19-2006, 12:40 PM
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Ruth wasn't all that fast even in his prime when he wasn't fat; I'd guess he could have rounded the bases in 16-18 seconds or so. No human being can hit a ball hard enough to stay aloft anywhere near that long.
Old 06-19-2006, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 2,268
This site discusses some of the physics of pop flies, where he considers not only basic air resistance, but the effect of turbulence on an object moving at an initial velocity higher than its terminal velocity (terminal velocity for a baseball is about 95mph; no matter what height a ball is dropped from, it will not exceed this velocity).

Bottom line: For a completely vertical pop fly to stay aloft for 7 seconds, the initial speed off the bat must be 54.5 m/sec (a shade over 90mph), and the ball would reach a height of 59.3m (a shade under 200ft). That fits with my experience seeing fly balls at MLB games (the backstop at most parks is 60 ft. high, and I've seen plenty of balls hit 2-3 times the height of the backstop), so I'd guess even a player like Ruth would have trouble keeping one aloft for >10 seconds, and as many have pointed out, he wasn't the fastest guy around...

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