Bichette: “We could re­ally clob­ber the base­ball”

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

Those who wit­nessed the now mythic home run swear, to this day, that it should rank as one of the long­est home runs in ma­jor­league his­tory.

The date was May 31, 1997. The ball­park was Mi­ami’s Pro Player Sta­dium. The in­ning was the fourth. The pitcher was Rock­ies neme­sis Kevin Brown. The pitch was a slider. A hang­ing slider. The re­sult was a grand slam that gave the Rock­ies a 7-0 lead.

The bat­ter was An­dres “Big Cat” Galar­raga, the Rock­ies’ pow­er­ful first base­man from Venezuela. He launched a ball that landed in the 20th row of the up­per deck above left field. In 2011, the spot was mea­sured by ESPN’S Home Run Tracker as 404 feet hor­i­zon­tally from home plate and 82 feet above field level.

The fall af­ter the fa­mous homer, for­mer Rock­ies man­ager Clint Hur­dle, the club’s hit­ting coach at the time, at­tended a foot­ball game at Pro Player. Hur­dle in­ten­tion­ally sat in the row where Galar­raga’s fa­mous homer touched down. Hur­dle con­cluded there was no way any­one could hit a ball that far.

The homer was orig­i­nally tagged as one of the long­est homers ever hit, trav­el­ing 579 feet. It was later re­duced to a more mod­est 529 feet, as listed in the Mar­lins’ me­dia guide.

“I’ll tell you, that was spe­cial, es­pe­cially against Kevin Brown, bases loaded,” the Big Cat re­called in June 2015. “There were a lot of peo­ple from Venezuela in Mi­ami. So that was so spe­cial. That was 579 feet, long­est home run ever. They changed it down to 529, maybe be­cause of Mickey Man­tle, I don’t know.”

Re­called team­mate Dante Bichette: “I never saw a ball hit that far. Mark Mcg­wire used to hit them up there in bat­ting prac­tice, but not as far as Cat’s.”

How­ever, the mea­sure­ments and cal­cu­la­tions done in 2011 by ESPN’S Home Run Tracker con­cluded that the homer trav­eled “only” 468 feet.

“Let’s give Galar­raga credit for a very long homer, but it was not any­thing close to 500 feet …” the study con­cluded.

To this day, the Rock­ies beg to dif­fer.

Pa­trick Saun­ders: psaun­ders@den­ver­post.com or @psaun­der­sdp

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