Mel Ott – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Gretna High School/Major League Baseball
One of the inaugural members of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, Melvin Thomas Ott has a rock-slid claim on being the greatest baseball player in history from the New Orleans area. The Gretna native, who is recognized as one of the top power-hitters of all-time, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951 with 87 percent of the vote.
Ott played his entire career with the New York Giants, finishing with 511 career home runs – the first national Leaguer to surpass the 500-mark. He also closed his career with a .304 batting average, 1,860 RBIs, 1,858 runs, 2,876 hits and 488 doubles. Though just 5-9 and 170 pounds, he led the National League in home runs six times and was the league’s all-time leader in round trippers until Willie Mays passed him in 1966.
A 12-time All-Star, Ott also played in three World Series, leading the Giants to the title in 1933.
Ott signed with the New York Giants as a 16-year old and made his major league debut at the age of 17, the youngest player in the majors at the time. When he became the team’s regular right fielder in 1929 at the edge of 19, he belted 41 home runs and collected 151 RBIs – both records for players who were 20 year old or younger at the start of the season. He would lead the Giants in home runs for 18 straight seasons (1928-45) – no other player in history has led his team for that many consecutive years in a Triple Crown category.
Born March 2, 1909, he died November 21, 1958 in an auto accident in Bay St. Louis at the age of 49. His number “4” was retired by the Giants in 1949 and the National League has honored its annual home run champion with the Mel Ott Award since 1959.