He joined the Orioles in 1932, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound outfielder who would slug his way to stardom. His name was Russell Loris Arlett, but to baseball fans, he was just “Buzz” or “The Buzzer.”
They marveled at his home runs, moonshots that escaped Oriole Park with a swing of the 44-ounce bat he called “Big Bertha.” Twice that season, Arlett hit four home runs in one International League game, on June 1 and July 4, each time connecting from both sides of the plate.
He finished the year with 54 homers. One blast, in Buffalo, reportedly crashed through the window of a house, conking a woman playing bridge and knocking her out.
Never mind Arlett’s porous defense. Opposing fans “may laugh at him in the field and suggest cushions to protect the top of his head from fly balls,” The Sun reported. “But their merriment turns to sighs when he steps to the plate. His legs are fitting pillars to uphold the bulk of his gargantuan torso.”
At 33, he’d spent most of his time in the bushes, acclaimed as “The Babe Ruth of the Minor Leagues.” On July 5, 1932, before an exhibition with the New York Yankees at Oriole Park, Ruth was photographed giving pointers to Arlett, who loomed over the Sultan of Swat. Arlett then homered in the game; Ruth did not.
The Orioles finished second that year and third the next. Then the big galoot was traded. He retired in 1937 with 432 home runs, a minor league mark for 78 years until broken by Mike Hessman in 2015. Arlett died in 1964.