Hank Greenberg, 58, 1938

Greenberg entered the the July 6 All-Star Game with 22 homers but then added 15 more in his final 21 games of the month. He homered just once in the first 16 games of August, but thanks to another flurry, finished the month with 46 in the Tigers' 123 games, putting him ahead of Ruth (43 in 127 games).

While much of the country cheered him on, many did not want to see a Jew break Ruth's record, even with Adolf Hitler ramping up his persecution of Jews in Europe at the time. Greenberg overcame that bigotry off the field and fewer good pitches to hit on it—he drew 11 walks in an eight-game homerless span to start September—to reach 56 on Sept. 23 and 58 after hitting two on Sept. 27 (Game 150). Due to a tie, that left him with five games to reach Ruth, but he could manage no more than four singles and a double the rest of the way. Umpire George Moriarty called the season finale at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium in the seventh inning due to darkness, telling Greenberg, “I’m sorry, Hank, this is as far as I can go.” Replied an exhausted Greenberg, "That’s all right, George, this is as far as I can go too.”

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