Pla­cen­tia duo’s power dis­play

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER COL­UMN nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It’s not se­cret that peo­ple dig the long ball.

And, noth­ing ex­em­pli­fies that more than a good, old­fash­ioned home run derby. It’s the clas­sic way to set­tle a dis­pute be­tween a pair of power hit­ters.

Young ath­letes are al­ways try­ing to out drive their friends since the soft­ball and base­ball were in­vented. Many times the po­si­tion them­selves at home plate, throw the ball in the air and at­tempt to drive it out of the park.

Whether it’s soft­ball or base­ball, the derby de­lights fans and at­tracts at­ten­tion like no other. To put it in per­spec­tive, last year’s MLB derby drew 7.1 mil­lion view­ers in the United States alone.

It’s one thing to line up with your bud­dies and see who can drive the ball the far­thest, but it’s some­thing else al­to­gether to see a pair of pro­fes­sional hit­ters test them­selves against each other. That’s what hap­pened at the Wil­liam P. Ho­gan Ball Field in Dunville last week when two of Canada’s best squared off in an im­promptu home­run derby.

Top soft­ballers and lo­cal alumni Stephen Mul­la­ley and Jeremy O’Reilly were in town to put off a free soft­ball clinic for any­one in­ter­ested in tak­ing part. A cou­ple days later they would suit up in the high pro­file Hill United Chiefs Rock In­vi­ta­tional in St. John’s.

Mul­la­ley played for the Chiefs, while O’Reilly hit the field with the Toronto Gators.

In be­tween teach­ing ses­sions, the pair cleared field and stepped to the plate.

Many times, pitcher Brent Hatfield would watch the ball ex­plode off the sil­ver Eas­ton bat and turn to watch it’s flight, then just bend over to pick up an­other muf­fin to serve.

“Yeah, he smashed that one,” was all he of­fered as he watched the pair launch tape mea­sure shot af­ter tape mea­sure shot.

One of Mul­la­ley’s balls hit the up­per part of the park­ing lot, which is up a small hill from the fence, while O’Reilly’s long­est hit the mid­dle of a bog a num­ber of feet be­yond the right field fence.

Eye-balling the dis­tance, it was pos­si­ble the balls trav­eled close to 350 feet at their long­est.

The prac­tice con­tin­ued for a cou­ple of rounds. O’Reilly and Mul­la­ley took turns scorch­ing soft­balls over the fences in right and left field.

Each swing elicited cheers and gasps from the cou­ple of dozen fans watch­ing the power dis­play.

On one oc­ca­sion, Mul­la­ley missed a pitch in the mid­dle of the plate, but vowed to make up for it.

“Watch what I do to this one,” he told O’Reilly be­fore rip­ping a ball over left cen­tre.

Just grip­ping the bat, dig­ging their cleats into the dirt at the plate and swing­ing for the fences un­til their moth­ers called them for din­ner.

No of­fi­cial tally was kept, but it re­ally didn’t mat­ter in the end. Wind blow­ing across the di­a­mond meant O’Reilly might’ve got a cou­ple more out, but no one was count­ing and they didn’t care. They just love to hit. Each swing was fol­lowed by a smile as they watched the ball get lost in the mid-morn­ing sky.

They would have been there all-day if they could. Just like they were kids again.

Just grip­ping the bat, dig­ging their cleats into the dirt at the plate and swing­ing for the fences un­til their moth­ers called them for din­ner.

It was some­thing to see.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Pla­cen­tia area na­tives Jeremy O’Reilly (front) and Stephen Mul­la­ley swung for the fences of­ten dur­ing an im­promptu home run derby at the Wil­liam P. Ho­gan Soft­ball field in Pla­cen­tia on June 28.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.