We already knew that John Paul II was the best baseball player of all the Popes. But which major leaguer took the home run crown under every Pope since the National League formed in 1876? This is an important question, and thankfully, someone took the time to figure it out.
Bill Arnold, a historian and statistician, calculated which players hit the most home runs during the reigns of the last 11 Popes, and shared it with the Baltimore Sun. It is, post-dead- ball era, a catalog of the greatest sluggers in baseball history, plus Jim Rice. (John Paul I died after just 30 days in office. Rice had a good September that year.)
Pope (Reign), Player, HRs
Pius IX (1846-1876), Charley Jones, 6
Leo XIII (1878-1903), Roger Connor, 138
Pius X (1903-1914), Frank Schulte, 73
Benedict XV (1914-1922), Babe Ruth, 162
Pius XI (1922-1939), Babe Ruth, 552
Pius XII (1939-1958), Ted Williams, 482
John XXIII (1958-1963), Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew, 174
Paul VI (1963-1978), Hank Aaron, 437
John Paul I (1978), Jim Rice, 13
John Paul II (1978-2005), Barry Bonds, 703
Benedict XVI (2005-2013), Albert Pujols, 312
It's a fool's errand to try and guess who will be the leading home run hitter under the new Pope, because it requires predicting both the length of Francis's reign and the next however many years of MLB. But among last year's top nine home run hitters, just two are under age 30: Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton, and only one of them is Catholic.