Born in Gretna, LA, Mel Ott (1909-1958) is remembered for his easygoing demeanor and his unusual but powerful high-leg-kick batting stance. Distinguishing himself with the New York Giants for 22 seasons, Ott was the first National League player to hit 500 home runs, and he led the league in home runs six times.
"Master Melvin" Ott began playing for the New York Giants in 1926 and stayed with the team for his entire career, serving as player-manager from 1942 to 1947 and as manager until midway through 1948. During the 1929 season, he racked up an impressive 42 home runs and 151 RBIs. A solid right fielder, he also took the league by storm with his unique left-handed batting technique, which involved holding his hands low and lifting his front foot. Ott set what was at the time a National League record for home runs with 511, hitting all but 187 of them in his home park, the Polo Grounds.
With Ott in their lineup, the Giants won three pennants. In 1933 he was a World Series hero when he hit two home runs, one of which won the fifth and final game in the 10th inning. Ott played in three World Series and 11 All Star games. He boasted a career batting average of .304, 511 home runs, and 1,860 RBIs.
Mel Ott was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951. He died in a car accident in 1958.