This day in baseball: Vertical catch record

In a publicity stunt arranged by the Come to Cleveland Committee on August 20, 1938, five members of the Indians (catchers Hank Helf, Frank Pytlak, and Rollie Hemsley and coaches Wally Schang and Johnny Bassler) attempted to set a record by catching a baseball dropped from the top of the 708-foot tall Terminal Tower. In front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 people, rookie reserve catcher Hank Helf managed to catch a ball dropped from the 52-story structure, which was estimated to be traveling at 138 mph. The catch broke Gabby Street’s 1908 mark for a vertical catch, established when Street snagged a ball dropped 555 feet from the top of the Washington Monument.

Hank Helf vertical catch - Cleveland State University Library

Cleveland State University Library


7 Comments on “This day in baseball: Vertical catch record”

  1. Steve Myers says:

    i’m reminded me of the beginning of the George Plimpton novel, title the same as the April Fool’s article in SI…an underrated gem of a book.


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