Home runs from A to Z
A Quirky glance at baseball's letter-winning HR hitters
Posted: Tuesday August 31, 1999 10:51 PM
By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI
What does Jamie Quirk have in common with Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Ted Williams when it comes to home run hitting?
With 43 career homers, not much.
But that's enough to qualify Quirk for the all-time lead for major league players with a last name beginning with Q. Conversely, Aaron, Ruth, Mays and Williams each lead their respective letters.
Quirk, who had an 18-year big league career, is one of only 36 major leaguers whose last name began with Q. But Quirk, who never had more than eight dingers in a season, is the home run king of the Q's.
Mark McGwire, meanwhile, has 51 home runs this season and 508 in his career through Tuesday. In fact, McGwire ranks only fifth all-time among the M's.
That's because no letter has dominated home run races like the letter M.
In all, M's comprise six of the 15 members of the 500-homer club (Mays, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Eddie Mathews, McGwire and Eddie Murray).
R is the only other letter with two representatives in the club -- Babe Ruth (714) and Frank Robinson (586). Incidentally, Robinson has the most home runs of any player who does not lead his letter.
But most of the leaders earned it. Only Gus Zernial (237), Pete Incaviglia (183), Willie Upshaw (123) and Quirk lead a letter with less than 300 homers.
And 12 of the 25 leaders are members of the Hall of Fame. Three more are still active (Jose Canseco, Frank Thomas and Greg Vaughn.)
And for the most part, most have safe leads.
Of the current major leaguers, only Texas' Rafael Palmeiro and Anaheim's Mo Vaughn could challenge for the lead in their letters.
Palmeiro, who has 354 career homers through Monday, is only 25 behind Tony Perez. Vaughn, meanwhile, is trailing Cincinnati's Greg Vaughn by 24 for the V lead.
However, the next home run hit by a player with a last name beginning with X will become the new leader.
After all, there has never been a major leaguer who has had a last name begin with X.