Sunday, March 14, 2010
Greatest Home Run Ever
In 1960 during game seven of the world series, Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the New York Yankees and win the world title for Pittsburgh.
This was indeed a great moment in baseball history and a great home run.
But it was not to be the greatest.
The Maz's walk-off shot comes in a close second to my brother Chester's four-bagger in the summer of 1988. There was no title at stake; no rivalry to be fought. As a matter of fact, it was during any other non-descript big league game at the Camden-Wyoming Ballpark in my home town.
It was a hot July night under the lights. Chester, a lean, left-handed hitter all of 18 years, stepped to the plate. He wore the number eight to emulate another lefty first basemen, the retired Willie Stargell. On the mound opposite my older brother was a southpaw of the same age. There was no love lost between the two.
Chester watched a fastball go by him, waist-high.
Another fastball down the center of the plate and he did not even flinch.
I was seated in the dugout and I shot a quick glance at my father in the crowd. Dad looked down and sucked air through his teeth.
The pitcher was back on the mound and stepped firmly on the rubber with both feet. He waited for the signs from the catcher. He shook the first one off and then nodded at the second.
That moment had sealed his fate. It was apparent now to every man, woman, and child at the game that a curveball was headed to the plate. I noticed my brother slowly shuffled to the front of the batter's box and widened his stance.
The curve was released and Chet jumped on it like nobody's business.
Right field straight down the line was only 275 feet, so the ballpark had heightened the fence with a thirty-foot net. The new rule was that it was not considered a home run unless it cleared this monstrosity.
The ball easily passed over it by a good ten yards and kept sailing on a linear path toward State Route Ten.
It was never found.
Yes, Bill Mazeroski's 1960 homerun was amazing. I am certain, however, if the Maz had observed my brother's slam that night, even he would have to agree that it was the finest home run he ever saw.
( Note: This post was written devoid of any pride a 16 year old kid brother may feel for his older sibling as the end of a great childhood was nearing. These are strictly the facts and not based on pride or hyperbole).
Happy 40th birthday to my one and only brother.