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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: JULY 21, 1967

Foxx Muscled His Way Onto Home Run Chart

July 21, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Jimmie Foxx retired, in 1945, only Babe Ruth had hit more home runs.

And when he died, 32 years ago today, only Willie Mays had moved past him on the career list.

Even now, 54 years after his last season, he stands ninth on the major leagues' home run list, at 534. He was a 6-foot, barrel-chested 200-pounder, a good-natured athlete whose biceps were so big he cut his uniform sleeves short to show them to pitchers.

Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez years afterward winced at the thought of pitching to Foxx.

"Even his hair had muscles," Gomez said.

"He hit a ball off me once that went to the upper deck at Yankee Stadium. It would have taken you 45 minutes just to walk up there, where it came down."

Foxx's lifetime slugging average, .609, ranks fourth all-time. He had 1,921 runs batted in, behind only Henry Aaron (2,297), Ruth (2,204), Lou Gehrig (1,990), Ty Cobb (1,960) and Stan Musial (1,951).

He's one of eight players to hit 50 home runs in a season twice, and in 1932 he threatened Ruth's mark of 60 for a season with 58. He actually did hit 60 that season, but two were washed away by rainouts. And he hit only three in August while nursing a sprained wrist.

Foxx, whose nickname was "Double-X," was 59 when he died unexpectedly at his brother's home in Miami. While eating dinner, Foxx choked on a piece of meat and lapsed into unconsciousness. An autopsy report attributed death to asphyxiation.

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Also on this date: In 1979, Granada Hills' John Elway threw four touchdown passes to lead the North to a 35-15 win in the Shrine all-star prep football game before 36,343 at the Rose Bowl. . . . In 1959, the Boston Red Sox became the last major league team to add a black player to their roster, when Elijah "Pumpsie" Green was inserted in a game to play shortstop. . . . In 1976, Hall of Fame Yankee outfielder Earle Combs, a "Murderers' Row" teammate of Ruth, died at 77.

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