The Big Fly The round tripper. The four bagger. “Back, back, back, back, back… Gone!” “Way back. Waaaaaayyyy Back.” Touch ‘em all, baby. In baseball, the home run is it. Sure, triples are cool, but guys don’t shoot steroids in their ass to hit triples. Mickey Mantle once said, “Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, ‘Sure, every time.’” That was my philosophy when I went to the plate. I was up there to crush the baseball.
On one memorable occasion, I got every bit of a 90-something MPH fastball thrown by Steve DiCarlo, then a pitcher for the Hosmer Chiefs in the Intercity League. I was 19 and still hoping to realize the dream of playing pro ball. I had faced this kid 7 times previously and had struck out every time. This was a playoff game. Our batboy, Bobby DeMarco suggested I try a lighter bat. I scoffed at the idea, but when it was time, I dropped the 34 and walked to the plate with a 33 ounce model. It felt light and I could really snap it around, hearing the wind on my practice swings. The first pitch was a fastball. I saw it well and swung as hard as I could. It felt solid and I ran hard toward first base. I heard someone on the bench laughing and then heard, “slow down.” When I looked up, I saw the ball still rising high above the tree line out in left field. I hope I never forget that image. Next at bat, I swung and missed the first pitch. I asked the catcher, Bobby DeFelice, if it was a strike. He said, “no, it was up in your eyes, but it’s the same pitch you hit to Saugus.” After the game, our manager, Les DeMarco said it was the longest ball he had ever seen hit. Ever. Les was a guy who played college ball and pitched in the minors. It’s a great memory.
Yep, there’s just nothing like the sight of a majestic, soaring clout out of the park like the one hit Tuesday by Manny Ramirez.
Manny “explodes through the zone…”
…and the crowd rises in unison to marvel at the result.
Both baseball writers and players love the bomb, and they jumped on this one. Ian Browne, wrote on MLB.com that Manny “obliterated” a breaking ball “for a titanic solo blast that traveled well over the Monster seats and perhaps beyond Lansdowne Street.” He dubbed it a “tape-measure shot.” The Boston Globe’s Chris Snow wrote Manny’s shot was the games “defining moment,” even though the Sox fell 4-3. “A tape measure shot if there ever was one.” “Farthest ball I’ve ever seen a human being hit,” said the Red Sox’ Kevin Millar. “It was like the movie `The Natural.'”
For those of you familiar with Fenway Park, the blast cleared one of the left-field light towers. The Boston Globe reported, “It was estimated at 501 feet out of deference to Ted Williams’s 502-foot shot in 1946 that landed 37 rows up in the bleachers.” Was it really 501 feet? John Pastier, writing for Slate wonders if “men always exaggerate the length of their long balls,” in The Myth of the 500-Foot Home Run.