The Baltimore Sun presents us with this list, compiled by baseball historian Bill Arnold, of the MLB’s home-run leaders by papal reign.
Pius IX (1846-1876) reigned for 30 years. Charley Jones hit six home runs during that time. Baseball was different 150 years ago!
Roger Connor hit 138 homers during the papacy of Leo XIII (1878-1903). He also grew at least one completely rad mustache, and appeared in a chewing tobacco advertisement. Bet the pope didn’t do that.
Frank Schulte went yard 73 times under Pius X (1903-1914). Pius doesn’t look too impressed. Schulte doesn’t know how to smile.
Benedict XV (1914-1922) presided over 162 Babe Ruth home runs, and he saw them all live. This is known as the Bleacher Era of the Roman papacy.
The Babe hit another 552 while Pius XI was pope, despite Pius XI (1922-1939) being more of a soccer guy.
Ted Williams homered 482 times for Pius XII (1939-1958), even though the pope questioned whether Williams’ son cryogenically freezing his body was, in fact, What Jesus Would Do.
Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew both hit 174 home runs during the reign of John XXIII (1958-1963) — a stalemate being appropriate for the Pope who helped mediate the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Aaron added 437 under Paul VI (1963-1978), who was said to have briefly considered taking Hammerin’ Hank I as his papal name.
John Paul I (1978) was only pope for 33 days, during which time Jim Rice hit 13 homers. Good thing those 33 days were during baseball season.
Barry Bonds notched 703 during John Paul II’s papacy (1978-2005). JPII’s thoughts on Bonds’ steroid use? “I didn’t like it, but, I mean, he was still a great hitter. It’s hard to say.”
And our most recent pope, Benedict XVI (2005-2013), got to watch Albert Pujols reach the stands 312 times. Probably safe to say that Pujols will not be the home run king of Francis’ reign, though the Angels did sign him through, and I quote, “eternity
Which slugger will dominate Francis’ papacy? Ryan Braun? Miguel Cabrera? Jose Bautista? ONLY GOD KNOWS.
(Braun image: Getty / Christian Petersen; Cabrera image: AP / Jeff Roberson; Bautista image: Reuters / Steve Nesius)