Gilbert M. Carter

by Mike Magers

Gil Carter was a professional baseball player from 1958-1960. On August 11, 1959, the Carlsbad Potashers were playing the Odessa Dodgers of the Class D Sophomore League with about 1,000 fans in attendance. The Potashers were trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the 9th when pitcher Wayne Schaper delivered a pitch to Carter which Carter connected with and drove out of the park.

Image credit: Carlsbad Current-Argus, 1959

The homer would prove to be the longest recorded home run in recorded baseball at 733 feet. The Major League Baseball record is held by Mickey Mantle at 634 feet with a blast in September of 1960 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. Some research questions that and shows the record to be a 575 foot bomb by Babe Ruth on July 18, 1921, but neither surpasses Carter’s drive that day. This was Carter’s twenty-eighth homer of the season, a new club and league record in the Sophomore League’s second season, with a few weeks remaining. Carter would hit six more before the season ended, closing the year with 34.Gil Carter was a stoutly built former boxer from Topeka, Kansas. He had been a football star in high school and was drafted by the Cubs. By then he had moved to Kansas City. The Carlsbad Potashers were linked to the Cubs and and Carter was assigned to them beginning with the 1958 season. As a boxer, he had won 61 of his previous 68 fights and was 23 years old when he began playing with the Carlsbad club. The Sophomore League, was designed to develop players for the big leagues. Gil would go on to play one more season in the minors, playing for the St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League before retiring from baseball, but his record still stands today.

Carter played in a total of 296 games and had 283 hits in 1972 at bats. He hit a total of 72 home runs, but the one on August 11, 1959 would remain in the record book. The ball came to rest under a peach tree in the yard of a Carlsbad resident who returned the ball to him after the game. It became a treasured family trophy. Gil passed away on May 31, 2015 from brain cancer. On June 3, 2015 he is to be honored at a game between the Topeka Senators and Topeka Golden Giants of the Great Plains League at a game in Lake Shawnee and his family will receive the Pride of Kansas Award in his honor. His family is in contact with the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City to have the home run ball displayed there.

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