Fifty years ago today, the New York Yankees were involved in a race that enthralled the nation daily. The Bombers held only a two-game American League lead over the Tigers, but that wasn't what had fans anxiously grabbing for the morning paper.
Roger Maris sat on 50 home runs and Mickey Mantle on 46. With five weeks of the season remaining, they were double-teaming a record thought untouchable, both blowing by the pace of Babe Ruth, who on that date in 1927 had 40 homers on his way to 60.
1-2 RBI Punches today
Top RBI tandems this season
Granderson 98, Teixeira 95
Fielder 100, Braun 85
Gonzalez 97, Ortiz 79
Tulowitzki 87, Gonzalez 80
Young 87, Cruz 78
The M&M Boys kept their dates with history, of course. Maris' 61 stood as a record for 37 years -- three years longer than had The Bambino's mark. The Mick wound up with 54, and their combined total of 115 still stands as the benchmark for teammates.
We may never again see teammates distance themselves so far from the field. However, every era, every season boasts its own dynamite one-two punches -- and 2011, even with pitchers taking the lead, is no exception.
Actually, this season has a chance to be exceptional: The frontrunners as the Majors' top one-two punches in both home runs and RBIs are the same, a parlay that has been surprisingly rare in history.
When Mark McGwire stepped up for 70 home runs in 1998, he more than doubled the total of his nearest St. Louis teammate, Ray Lankford (31). When Barry Bonds dialed it up to 73 in 2001, he did nearly the same to Giants runner-up Rich Aurilia (37).
Going (Two) Deep in history
Top home-run tandems in history
Maris 61, Mantle 54
Bonds 73, Aurilia 37
Ruth 60, Gehrig 47
McGwire 70, Lankford 31
A-Rod 57, Palmeiro 43
McGwire 65, Tatis 34
A-Rod 52, Palmeiro 47
Griffey 56, A-Rod 42
Sosa 66, H. Rodriguez 31
Griffey 56, Buhner 40
The Yankees' Curtis Granderson (35 homers and 98 RBIs) and Mark Teixeira (34, 95) lead in both categories. Their combined total of 69 homers is nine more than that of St. Louis cohorts Albert Pujols (31) and Lance Berkman (29) and the Yankees' 193 RBIs lead Milwaukee's Prince Fielder (100) and Ryan Braun (85) by eight.
Maris' and Mantle's 115 may be the bona fide untouchable. Asking for two bolts of lightning to simultaneously strike the same clubhouse is asking for too much.
All those tandems rank among the Top 10 in baseball history, and it may be a while before any contemporary pair of teammates challenges that list.
Going (Two) Deep Today
Leading home run tandems this season
Granderson 35, Teixeira 34
Pujols 31, Berkman 29
Bautista 36, Lind 22
Fielder 28, Braun 25
Konerko 28, Quentin 24
The historical Top 10 of RBI tandems appears even safer -- bringing up the rear of that list are 1921 Yankees mates Ruth (171) and Bob Meusel (135) with 306.
The fabled Yankees of the 1920s and '30s own the RBI list, with half of the entries, four of them including Lou Gehrig and Ruth.
No twosome has topped 300 since the 1940s. There have been a pair of legitimate assaults -- neither from Maris (141) and Mantle (128), who even in their singular double-up season of 1961 totaled "only" 269.
In 1996, Rockies Andres Galarraga (150) and Dante Bichette (141) put up 291. In 2005, the iconic Boston duo of David Ortiz (148) and Manny Ramirez (144) came even a step closer.
Even those gaudy numbers weren't close to the tandem record of 347 posted in 1931, when Gehrig (184) and Ruth (163) both drove in more than double the individual average of 73 RBIs that season.
1-2 RBI punches in history
Top RBI totals by temmates
Gehrig 184, Ruth 163
Gehrig 175, Ruth 164
Gehrig 174, Ruth 153
DiMaggio 167, Gehrig 159
Wilson 191, Cuyler 134
Simmons 165, Foxx 156
Foxx 169, Simmons 151
Williams 159, Stephens 159
Wilson 159, Hornsby 149
Ruth 171, Meusel 135
Alex Rodriguez claims the distinction of having been parts of three of the Top 10 home-run tandems in history -- none of the occasions with his club of the last eight years, the Yankees.
With the Rangers, Rodriguez cracked the list twice with Rafael Palmeiro, with combined totals of 100 in 2002 and 99 in '01. Three years earlier, Ken Griffey Jr. (56) and A-Rod (42) teamed to put up 98 for the Mariners.
While comparing different baseball eras is apples to oranges, Granderson & Teixeira do have an opportunity to flash back to Maris & Mantle in spirit, if not quite in numbers.
The New York pair ranks a close second and third in the AL in homers to Toronto's Jose Bautista, who has 36 in his attempt to retain his home-run crown. The last Bronx buddies to finish a season one-two in the league in homers? M&M, naturally.
Now, we're not about to attempt asterisk revision 50 years later. Yet somehow overlooked in the vilification of Maris for taking 161 games to break Babe Ruth's single-season homer record was a measure of just how great was his 1961 union with Mantle.
In his 60-homer season of 1927, Ruth contributed to another record: He and Lou Gehrig (47) combined for 107 homers, the most for teammates until M&M got cooking. Maris (56) and Mantle (52) topped that on Sept. 9, in the Yankees' 143rd game. But neither received brownie points for that.
Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.