Bichette: “We could really clobber the baseball”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or @psaundersdp