Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder, during a round of batting practice Wednesday, reportedly hit a ball 611 feet — a distance measured by longtime Detroit News scribe Tom Gage.
Yes, 611. Starts with a "six." Hey, 611 — isn't that the number you call when your telephone is broken? Talk about dialing long distance. That's Cecil Fielder-sized. And that ball must be misshapen something awful.
Here's Gage's account of how he measured:
The ball cleared the fence, and sailed over the pines beyond, on the center side of right-center at the Tigertown complex — closer to the 420 sign than to 340 down the line.
So I assigned it a home-to-fence distance of 385 feet.
But with the help of Lakeland colleague Dick Scanlon, who held the other end of the tape, we walked off 226 feet from the fence to the spot where I was told — by the home-run retriever who picked up the ball — it came to rest.
As a colleague points out — where "it came to rest"? How far of a roll are we talking here? Shouldn't we count where it lands? Like the home run that Mickey Mantle supposedly hit that landed in the truck that drove away? Did the Mick hit that ball 10 miles?
Aside from that, if Gage's measurement is accurate — and it's OK to be skeptical — it would be the longest measured home run in the history of home runs. Even if it came in batting practice during spring training.
Realize something, though: The entire history of measuring home runs is more myth than math. Especially if you go back longer than, say, 25 years.
At the risk of enraging Mantle fans, his website claims he once hit a home run 734 feet. It's just not believable. It might as well say he also threw the pitch and flew home like Superman after the game ended. According to an article from 1996 found at Baseball Almanac and in "The Home Run Encyclopedia" by William J. Jenkinson, history is littered with speculative home run distances that are longer in lore than they are in actual feet.
A 611-footer is obviously better than the 502-footer Cecil Fielder is on record hitting at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1991. Prince might even remember that one. If only he and Cecil were on speaking terms, they could compare notes.
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Let's just say it's true. If Gage's gauge is correct, it would be 125 feet — ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE — longer than Fielder's longest homer in 2011 as tracked by Home Run Tracker. (Prince went 486 feet against Brett Myers at Minute Maid Park on April 29. Adam Dunn, back in 2008 when he was making contact, is the most recent player to clear 500 feet in a game at 504.)
But 611? Sounds awful big.
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