I was born and raised an Irish Catholic in Baltimore; if you frequent this blog you may have known that.
Baseball is the ultimate sport for bizarre connections to history. No sport does random statistics better than baseball.
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This morning’s blog merges all of those concepts together rather seamlessly (or clumsily, that’s your call). I must admit its ridiculousness made me laugh and shake my head a little bit.
Baseball historian/statistician Bill Arnold passed this tidbit my way. And I had to share it with you. It combines Catholicism and baseball. And includes Baltimore’s greatest son.
In honor of the Roman Catholic Church naming Francis I its new pope Wednesday, Arnold put together a list of all-time, home-run leaders under each of the 11 popes since Major League Baseball was officially formed.
I’m not kidding.
Baltimore-born Babe Ruth is the only player to have sole possession of homer crowns under two popes (Hank Aaron had to share one). And, appropriately, the last player to win the “Pope Homer Crown” was a Cardinal and then an Angel: Albert Pujols (during Benedict XVI’s reign.)
By the way, Arnold points out that, numbers-wise, it’s easier to be selected to be pope (66 percent of the electorate) than a baseball Hall of Famer (75 percent).
Here is the list:
Pope (Reign), Player, HRs
Pius IX (1846-1876), Charley Jones, 6
Leo XIII (1878-1903), Roger Connor, 138
Pius X (1903-1914), Frank Schulte, 73
Benedict XV (1914-1922), Babe Ruth, 162
Pius XI (1922-1939), Babe Ruth, 552
Pius XII (1939-1958), Ted Williams, 482
John XXIII (1958-1963), Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew, 174
Paul VI (1963-1978), Hank Aaron, 437
John Paul I (1978), Jim Rice, 13
John Paul II (1978-2005), Barry Bonds, 703
Benedict XVI (2005-2013), Albert Pujols, 312
Source: Bill Arnold