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.
7 thoughts on “This day in baseball: Vertical catch record”
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.
I haven’t read it, but did some searching, and I think you must be talking about https://newyorkmets.fandom.com/wiki/Sidd_Finch. Sounds like an awesome story and even better April Fool’s prank!
and then Plimpton turned his Sports Illustrated April Fools day article into a book. in the beginning of the book (if i remember right) there’s a ball dropping from a plane or helicopter and someone there to catch it or try to.
oops. i see in the article you linked to, it says that he turned it into a book. sorry about that.
I definitely need to track down both the article and the book. This sounds like a fascinating tale.
What made Finch tough is that his change was only 110 MPH, which gave him great separation from the fastball.
That *is* quite a difference in speeds! I’d hate to be at the plate when he unleashes his curve.