An internet search reveals myriad versions of the longest home runs in Major League Baseball history with many listed at over 500 feet. These invite many questions of the method of measurement and consistency of process.
How many are actual flight distances? Do bounces and rolls count? How many are estimates of where a ball might have landed if ballpark structures didn’t stop them? I know for sure about two that top my personal list because I viewed them in person, one in spring training and the other during the regular season.
The Detroit Tigers entered 1993 with four prolific right-handed power hitters who homered long and often, one of whom was the very muscular Rob Deer. During spring training batting practice many fans with gloves patrolled the parking lots beyond the left field fence in search of souvenir baseballs. Some would linger for the game itself.
Deer was facing Cardinals lefty Donovan Osborne at Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, when an unusually loud crack of the bat signaled a huge home run blast that was caught on the fly in the parking lot, an incredible distance from home plate and fully visible to most in attendance.
The location was marked immediately and measured by a Tampa writer after the game. The ball had traveled 530 feet on the fly.
I don’t know the exact distance of the regular season homer I’m citing but YouTube video is available online. On May 5, 2000, the Cardinals were in Cincinnati when a Mark McGwire bomb off lefty Ron Villone reached the fifth row of the upper deck (red seats) to the right of the 375 sign on the outfield wall. There’s no way the listed distance of 473 feet represents how far it would have gone if not for reaching and stopping at the seats.
Red seat homers averaged about one per year at Riverfront/Cinergy in the Queen City but most were hit near the foul lines where the red seats were much closer to home plate. This blast was special. I’d like to see geometry and current metrics applied to estimate how special.
Next Friday: President Carter’s brother visits the Cleveland Indians.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross joined the local sports media in 1975. His columns have won statewide recognition the past three years by the Associated Press.