This is our old blog. It hasn't been active since 2011. Please see the link above for our current blog or click the logo above to see all of the great data and content on this site.

Beltre’s drop-and-drive

Posted by John Autin on October 25, 2011

When Adrian Beltre's game-5-tying HR moonbeamed into the LF stands while his back knee collapsed to the ground, my first thought was: "Reggie '77."

I would have sworn that Reggie Jackson's knee touched the dirt on at least one of his three HRs in the 1977 WS clincher.

But this video clip -- assembled by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on the heels of Prince Albert's own 3-HR game -- belies my memory. Reggie's knee definitely doesn't touch ground on the 1st and 3rd HRs, and while the 2nd is shown from an unsatisfactory angle, it doesn't seem as though he got his pants dirty that time, either.

Can anyone help me out? I have such a clear mental picture of Reggie's back knee in full collapse while the ball clears the fence, but I can't find video confirmation.

45 Responses to “Beltre’s drop-and-drive”

  1. Matt K Says:

    no video, but there's a still of where it looks like he goes to a knee, but like you said... not a great angle.

  2. Ron Says:

    Ever heard of Dave Kingman?

  3. John Autin Says:

    @2, Ron -- Your comment is somewhat cryptical. Are you implying that Dave Kingman dropped his back knee? I've seen a few of his HR videos on Youtube, but nothing like that cropped up. For instance:

  4. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Bucketfoot Al Simmons had nothing on these Jaspers.

  5. Frank Clingenpeel Says:


    Check out the footage of Reggie's homers in Games 4 and 5; I was thinking I remembered it too, but that may just be my senility kicking in.

  6. fajita Says:

    i think you are thinking about the same picture as i was:

  7. Luis Gomez Says:

    @ 6

    I don't have the actual picture (other than in my mind) but that's the same Reggie image used in a Topps Magazine centerfold from the early 90's with the legend "Reggie Bar" all over the poster. Oh, I miss those days.

  8. StephenH Says:

    I think a lot of the 50's and 60's sluggers dropped their back knee on home runs, and as Reggie came up in the 60's, I seem to remember him do it a few times. If you check out Gil Hodges and Roy Campenella from the Brooklyn Dodgers and Harmon Killerbrew, you will see that they do it. As for #2 and Kingman? I never remember him doing that in his time with the Mets.

  9. StephenH Says:

    Just looked at the videos from the link in the post. Doesn't it look like the Babe hits that homer off balance and to the opposite field?

    On the Reggie video, of Hough it looks like his back knee grazed the ground. But no smudge on his uni.

  10. topper009 Says:

    That would have cool to see Babe Ruth getting caught stealing to end the series in that first video.

  11. leatherman Says:

    You might be thinking of this picture, which was on his 1978 Topps card:

  12. Kingturtle Says:

    my god! his knee really is on the ground!

  13. pauley Says:

    I think Reggie was much more likely to end up on his knee when swinging and missing.

  14. Doug Says:


    In the video clip, the still of Jackson launching one off of Charlie Hough (despite the fact that the voiceover implies it's Burt Hooton) seems the closest to Beltre's swing. Hough's knuckler probably had a similar break to the 12 to 6 drop on Carpenter's curve that Beltre nailed.

    Both swings were classic golf shots. The hitter's got to get pretty low to golf it out - the bat isn't as long as the driver.

  15. Mike Felber Says:

    Babe Ruth had an amazing swing before any modern training or analysis, intuitive wisdom that came from a wild kid, before anyone was swinging for the fences. That he could do so many things effectively while effectively creating the power game by creating this from whole cloth (nothing) is incredible.

    These 2 videos are both insightful. It discusses his crucial gifts: linear movement, "walking away" from his hands, hip movement & rotation, large AOI (area of impact), & keeping his back elbow bent until after the swing. These & other subtleties created power that according to the premiere tape measure historian Bill Jenkinson, meant power that has never been equaled. Much stronger modern trained players could not believe the trees he swung.

  16. Jim Welder Says:

    I seem recall Reggie doing the same thing and that was my thought exactly after the Beltre homer...

  17. DaveZ Says:

    There is NO WAY that first swing shown of Babe Ruth resulted in a home run.

  18. Andy Says:

    Beltre has hit numerous homers with his knee on the ground...not actually anything new for him (but damned impressive nonetheless).

  19. TapDancingTeddy Says:

    @ 13 - You are correct. Reggie's contact swings and no-contact swings were very different. I can't remember many times when Reggie made contact and had his back knee on the ground. But anything could happen - and often did - when he missed.

    As for Dave Kingman, he stood tall in the box and didn't get low when swinging. I doubt he ever had a Beltre style contact or a Reggie kind of miss.

  20. Tmckelv Says:

    I picture Kingman with a little kick prior to his swing that would have made a subsequent drop to his knee a little challenging. But I may be imagining something that was never there also.

  21. nightfly Says:

    I seem to remember Reggie gettin' down on a lot of his swings - his stride seemed to drop his whole body lower. It amazes me, actually, that he could change his eye level so radically and still track the ball well enough to crush it with such regularity; though it does kind of shine a light on his 2500+ whiffs.

    Then, I look at the video clips, and it's not really all that much of a change until AFTER contact. Just a trick of the eye and the memory.

  22. Jason Says:

    Knee on the ground or not, Reginald Martinez Jackson was in the zone
    this historic day.

    As the story goes Reggie had a legendary batting practice, prior to
    the game. The story is recounted in Roger Kahn's extraordinary
    "October Men", treat yourself Twisto.

    In any event, Reggie must have hit 20 homers during batting practice.

    Both teams were just staring. These were long high drives, classic
    Reggie "moon shots".

    Burt Hooten paid his respects by walking Reggie on four pitches in
    the second inning.

    Later in the game Reggie would take just three swings.

    Including the homer Reggie hit at the end of game 5 on his final swing
    of that night, Reggie produced 4 World Series homers on 4 consecutive

    I feel safe saying we will never see the likes of this again.

  23. Chuck Says:

    "These 2 videos are both insightful. It discusses his crucial gifts: linear movement, "walking away" from his hands, hip movement & rotation, large AOI (area of impact), & keeping his back elbow bent until after the swing."

    Those attributes are common among all good hitters and are/were not some special magic potion Ruth possessed.

    Willie Mays, when he was younger, would often touch the ground with his back knee.

  24. Jason Says:

    @15-you are correct in referring to the "tree" that Ruth swung. I believe
    he used bats that weighed up around 44 oz.

    It would be interesting to see how the pitch speeds that Ruth faced
    are adjusted upward when taking into account the lumber he used.

    In other words, how does pitch speed of 99 MPH when swinging
    a 31 oz bat, compare to pitch speed of 85 when swinging a 44 oz

    Far better math minds than mine are needed.

  25. John Autin Says:

    About the weight of bats ... A 44-oz. bat would not have been unusual for Ruth's era. It's been widely reported that Honus Wagner, Edd Roush and others used a 48-oz. bat. Ty Cobb is said to have used a 42-oz. bat. The Ruth difference, as I see it, was that he didn't choke up and used an all-out uppercut.

    I have read that Ruth at some point used a 52-oz. bat (, but I've also read that he more commonly used bats in the 42-oz. range.

  26. pauley Says:

    Right now comcast's on demand has MLB Networks 20 greatest games- Kingman is in game 20 hitting 3 home runs and he never comes close to dropping a knee. Reggie is in at least a couple games but I haven't watched them yet- 78 Bucky Dent game, 86 Angels-Red Sox.

  27. Rich Says:

    @ 22 "I feel safe saying we will never see the likes of this again."

    Mostly cause pitchers aren't that stupid anymore. One thing I never understood about that Reggie game: he hits three straight home runs on 3 pitches. Here's a thought: DON'T THROW HIM A STRIKE

  28. aweb Says:

    I've seen a few times, although the links escape me, that it is very likely that the old-timers like Ruth did hit the longest homers ever, by significant margins, because of the extra bat weight. Longest homer distances are determined by:
    bat speed, ball speed, ball "bounciness", ball weight, and bat weight. The energy imparted to the ball by a bat that is 15-25% heavier than the current models cannot be made up by the extra bat speed of today's players. I think it would be great if hitters today took up customized bats to hit certain pitchers. Junk-baller pitching, bring out the heavy lumber! I'm sure there's a marginal advantage there just waiting to be exploited by the right development system.

    As for hitting pitch speeds, there is head-to-head data against the eras top speed throwers. I'm not quick enough to find it now though...

  29. Cheese Says:

    Don't forget that Ruth said he patterned his swing (or was inspired by) shoeless joe jackson.

  30. Mike Felber Says:

    Hi Chuck! Those features I described are common amongst good hitters, but many even great hitters did not do it nearly so well as Ruth. i have watched many swings & analysis, & some of what Ruth did is more u8nusual, let alone in combination. For example, few "walk away" from their hands as much as he did, leaving them back until the whole body, hip 1st, shifts all the way forward. Many things in tandem is why the 1st video describes it as the best swing ever.

    DaveZ, I believe you were talking about when Ruth hit #60. I have no iddea why you think that swing did not result in an HR.

    I have heard Ruth used something in the mid 50's heaviest, 42-44 was more common. but Aweb: Physicists say the exact OPPOSITE than you: that even the much stronger players today cannot make up the increased distance caused by a heavier bat compared to the lost speed of swinging it! And that the modern way of weighting it at the barrel increases efficiency-& broken bats.

    I have read once that the balls were more bouncy in Ruth's time, right after the dead ball era, but I have not heard this confirmed. Jenkinson does report that when Ruth borrowed a 32 ounce "toothpick" from a teammate for 1 game, he hit 2 HRs, one 525 feet.

    Robert Adair discusses distance hitting & what theoretically produces the furthest shot, & he seemed to think a giant 7' tall or so player could hit the furthest, all other things being equal. Of course there are a few reasons they might not be equal. Also, he did not believe anyone could hit 500' or ever did under neutral conditions, & he was just wrong on that.

    But I wonder if 1) Ruth was an exception to the rule that heavier, inefficient bats could maximize ones potential. i tend to doubt that, 'cause as great as Ruth was, he did not have the raw muscle of tons of modern players.

    2) Even more scary, could Ruth have hit even further with modern toothpicks?

  31. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @30/ Mike Felber -

    "Adair discusses distance hitting & what theoretically produces the furthest shot,... ... Also, he did not believe anyone could hit 500' or ever did under neutral conditions, & he was just wrong on that..."

    Mike, I've read that physicists have determined that the furthest a batted baseball could travel is about 540 feet, under neutral atmospherical conditions. Fans talk about "500-foot shots", but these are very rare; it is extremely unusual for a HR to actually travel 500 feet.

  32. kenh Says:


    How could you blame him? He's answered the whole world!

  33. Mike Felber Says:

    I would love to see that reference Lawrence, it sounds more in accords with reality. Jenkinson has just a few players at 540'. Only Mantle has 551'-if you exclude Ruth. It makes sense that some of those around or at 540' had at least a slight enhancement-altitude, wind...Reggie's AG HR was listed at 540', but there was a significant tail wind.

    But Ruth had a few shots longer. The way he describes them, there were no conditions that could adequately account for the post 540' discrepancy. One was over a fence that was ~570' away, an unimpeded shot, he had it at 585'.

    He found one shot that there seemed to be good evidence was well over 600', after the '26 WS. A 5-10 MPH tail wind was recorded in an nearby town (to Wilkes Barre PA). You could claim the man is biased, having written "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs" ('21, assuming modern stadium size). Yet Ruth said it was his furthest shot, only one he ever asked to be measured, they claimed 650' then...

    Granted usually bounces &/or a lack of understanding of how far a ball travels after its apex characterizes exaggerations. Yet Ruth seems to have had a rare "plus" ability in this regard. Interestingly, he shows how emotion, like hitting after some encounter w/needy kids, seemed to drive his greatest blasts several times.

    450' seems to be about the limit (& we are talking about rare outliers here) for throwing a ball under neutral conditions. He has Colavito as the best distance arm ever. While 10' off the record, his 435' was into a crosswind & at sea level.

    Why one earth is seemingly nobody competing for decades at this basic, brute ability?

  34. Douglas Murphy Says:

    Andy Jones started taking swings like that during his last days with the Braves. Usually when swinging and missing, rarely (if ever) when homering. If he made contact it was usually pulled down the line.

  35. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @33/ Mike Felber -
    Sorry, I don't have time to fully research this topic, but googling "longest Home Run distance is about 540 feet ", I came across several references to "The Physics of Baseball" by Dr. Robert Adair.

    I also found an excellent article on the subject in the Baseball Almanac, written by the aforementioned Bill Jenkinson:

    The basic problem with measuring a HR is that it usually hits the stands or a facade or something else before it completes its full downward descent. The only way to get a true distance, is if a HR ball completely clears the stands and hits the ground outside the stadium. Unfortunately, nowadays it's almost impossible to hit a fair ball completely out of the park (Wrigley is an exception).

    @33/ "450' seems to be about the limit (& we are talking about rare outliers here) for throwing a ball under neutral conditions... ... Why on earth is seemingly nobody competing for decades at this basic, brute ability?"

    Mike, I'm going to guess that's because of the risk of serious arm injury. Didn't Barry Larkin hurt his arm in some skill competition in the All-Star game? Also, there are anectodotal stories of players such as Ty Cobb hurting their arms in informal throwing contests.

  36. Mike Felber Says:

    Thank you Lawrence. I have seen that article several times, just understand it was authored in '96, years before Jenkinson did his definitive survey of distance hitting (1st printing, March 2, 2010.

    Sure, i said that rarely are balls uninterrupted. But there are ways to triangulate pretty well the likely distance of blasts. Angle & whether still rising when interrupted are the main things. I do wonder if there is more range of error than he thinks-at least if still rising when interrupted, how long it would rise is the crucial piece of info to know. If you know the distance at apex & angle you can accurately figure where it would end up.

    It seems that there is an optical illusion that many balls are still rising when they are not. At least we can see when it would be impossible-like Mantle's '63 shot would have had to go at least 700' if still rising (& the optimum angle would have been higher). Yet I wonder how he can distinguish balls interrupted that COULD be still rising from those that just look like they are.

    Yes, risk of injury may be the cause. Though I doubt that a well warmed up major league arm should have a very high risk throwing a few bombs, & I do not think they should be THAT careful. But why is it never done not only in the off season, but by anyone? Even amateurs, non ball players...

    I never heard of injuries like Cobb's. But our default avatar Honus Wagner once set the world record, about 403', & from the report he may have thrown at higher than an optimum angle. If we really wanted to measure throwing power, apart from speed, we could take out the variable of the skill of throwing at the best angle, & just precisely measure how long the ball is in the air. That way if it is too low an angle, your distance would still suffer, but I surmise that if it was too high, not at all (unless so high that the angle is unnatural).

    Steve Dalkowski was reported to have thrown over a 440' fence. For anyone interested in what-if legends, just Google him. Many alleged he threw the fastest ever. Though he had no control, was mentally limited & drank heavily. And he was around Pedro's size.

  37. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @36/Mike F. -
    Sorry I do not have time for the reply your deserves,but one short comment -

    An important part of an outfielder's throwing skills is not only the ability to throw it long distances, but to THROW IT ACCURATELY - in particular, to hit the cutoff man. A long throw arcing over the cutoff man is not as useful as a shorter, flatter throw that does hit the cutoff man.

    So, a measure of how long the ball is in the air may prove who can throw the ball the furthest, but it doesn't translate directly to who is the better defensive player. But then, neither do the longest HRs tell you who is the best hitter.

  38. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Lawrence Azrin

    To echo your sentiment, I also feel, while there are risks, it would be great fun to have an all around 5-tool competition, ala NFL’s Quarterback Challenge. It would be interesting to see who had the best first to third time, who had the best 90 ft dash, Infield arm speed, outfield arm distance, etc.
    I have heard stories of guy’s at the NFL combine throwing a spiral 75 yards, drop kicking (punting) 75 yards in the air, incredible vertical, etc. There is a famous story of Dieon Sanders shattering the 100 yard dash record during his combine year. Supposedly, Sawon Dunston threw in the mid to upper 90’s (that coming from Mark Grace).
    So during the HR derby, why not have contests in other categories as well. Good fun.
    @ your #35, I think you are forgetting McCovey cove and Camden Yards. Only three or four guys have hit the warehouse in Camden and about a quarter of Bonds’ HRs ended up in the cove, so I’m sure you can get some measurements from those. I saw Bonds hit one during interleague play at Yankee stadium that landed ten rows back in the upper deck of rightfield. It was the farthest one I ever saw. Any one remember that one?
    I also remember a story of a prisoner who made exact scale models of all the stadiums and he could extrapolate the distance of HRs, + or - a few feet. I’m sure someone with a degree in geometry or physics could figure out HR distance even if the shot is deflected by the stadium.

  39. Mike Felber Says:

    Of course Lawrence, O am only talking about arm & bat power. It would take great accuracy & power to not NEED a cutoff man, & that would save time, but to ask that from anyone, especially throws to home, would be excessive.

    Yes DOF, that would be great to see. I read Neon Dieon broke an agility test record involving scrambling speed. But I do not think that you meant he broke the national 100 yard record, just football one, right?

    Bonds furthest blast, even after all the PEDs, was 493'. He consistently hit it pretty far after PEDs, & seemingly with relative ease, but even after PEDs never had the power of the best ever. Big Mac did-only after drugging it up. rated $6 all time by B.J., & credited w/a 535' during historic '98..

    Only trouble I see with that prisoner being that accurate is 1) does he know if the ball is still rising? & 2) if it is, how would he know how much LONGER it would rise if uninterrupted?

  40. Chuck Says:,r:6,s:0

    Probably not the best picture.

    This is Chase Field in AZ.

    The three panels on each side next to the scoreboard can open and close like the roof can.

    I saw Mark McGwire hit a ball through the open panel closest to the scoreboard on the LF side.

    It was BP, but easily over 500 feet, more impressive by the fact it was BP.

    A couple of pitches before that, he hit one even further but hit the upper left hand corner of the scoreboard.

    Mike is right, each park has a measuring system that tracks trajectory and estimates distance if the ball had landed on the ground, these are the "official" measurements that are announced on the broadcast and entered into the ML scoring database.

    I've seen a number of 500' plus homers.

  41. Mike Felber Says:

    Huh, interesting. I don't know that Jenkinson tracked all the BP balls. 500' is pretty rare-a true distance, with a wooden bat. I recall Hamilton having the furthest shot last year, 485'. Chuck, do you think that the AG HR contest balls have sometimes been springy ringers?

    Jenkinson did say Big Mac was unique in hitting further in his 30's. That before then he would not have been in th etop 30 distance hitters, though he ranked 6 all time after that. He did not even need to imply why.

  42. Chuck Says:

    "Chuck, do you think that the AG HR contest balls have sometimes been springy ringers?"

    No question.

    They are made especially for the HR Derby, and are not even the same as those used in the game.

  43. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @41/ Mike Felber -
    "... do you think that the AG HR contest balls have sometimes been springy ringers?..."

    Mike, I think MLB has all but admitted that the baseballs for the 1999 ASG held at Fenway were more lively. Not only McGwire, but also Nomar, were really cranking the balls waaay over the net on the Green Monster in BP.

    @38/ dukeofflatbush -
    Yes, you're right about batters hitting HRs completely out of Camden and McCovey Cove, but it happens so rarely,it's not that useful computing distances for the average HR hit there.

    So who would you guys list as the greatest "long-distance"HR hitters, here's mine:
    1) Ruth (still the champ!)
    2/3) Foxx or Mantle (I might put Mantle ahead for hitting themfrom both sides)
    4) McGwire
    5) Frank Howard

    Roger Connor, Ed Delahanty, Sam Crawford, Joe Jackson (deadball era), Gehrig, Greenberg, Hack Wilson, Ted Williams, Dave Nicholson, Kiner, McCovey, Willie Stargell, Dick Allen, Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, Schmidt, Jim Rice, Canseco, Bo Jackson, Jr Griffey, Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, too many to list (i.e., this is _not_ definitive)

    There's probably at least a couple hundred players who have hit truly impressive HRs in MLB games.

  44. Mike Felber Says:

    Thanks Chuck, I was unsure of that. Have you ever heard that baseballs were more springy, at least a bit, in the original slugger's era? i read that, but not at all sure.

    you are not so far off Jenkinson's official list Lawrence! Ruth, then Foxx barely above Mantle (for more 450'=-400' shots), then Howard, barely above Allen. Then Big Mac, & Jackson Stargell Killer (you forgot), McCovey. Gibson put #11, but he could have been higher. Williams #14. Dunn #1 currently.

    Yes, many great distance guys, & while there seems a big correlation between HR guys & pure distance, it is imperfect. Allen lost the least distance to the opposite field. Mays & Aaron were never near the very top, & even Bonds on PEDs was not. Gehrig Greenberg Wilson just did not hit them quite as far as the elite guys.

    Most of the top guys tended to be naturally bulky (i.e, without/before weight training & PEDs. Stretch, Williams & Kong less so, their length/leverage helped them. I really wonder if Adair was right: would a basketball center guy like Shaq, with great length & natural power, hit even further?

    Hard to know. One, most of those guys are siphoned off to basketball or even football. Two, it is hard for someone so long to have the great reactions necessary for consistent dominance-an example is how long it took Randy Johnson to iron out the kinks in, or perfect, his mechanics-more chance for errors when you are so long.

  45. fix leaning fence post Says:

    fix leaning fence post...

    [...]Beltre’s drop-and-drive » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive[...]...