Just two players rate two entries in this series (though one other will be noted in two different articles). Sammy Sosa was one.
The other is Kyle Schwarber, and his two home runs of my 20 greatest in Cubs history happened within a week of each other. You read about his blast into the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh here just a couple of days ago.
The fun part is listening to TBS analysts Dennis Eckersley and Joe Simpson after play-by-play man Brian Anderson says, in a classic understatement, “This ball is long gone!”
“What in the world...”
Neither Eckersley nor Simpson could believe it. Those of you watching on TV, and those like me who were watching at Wrigley, probably lost sight of the ball. At first it had appeared to clear the right-field video board and land on Sheffield Avenue. That’s what Anderson said on the TBS broadcast, anyway.
Just where did that ball land? Here:
Just how far did that ball go? Here are the numbers (with Pat Hughes’ radio call). [VIDEO]
112 miles per hour. Max height 136 (!) feet (about the height of a 13-story building!). Distance estimated at 419 feet. The Cubs put a plastic box around the ball and left it where it landed. It was removed briefly in 2016 to be displayed on the bleacher concourse, but as far as I know it was then put back on top of the board and is still there.
Beyond the absolute crushing of that baseball, there’s important context here. The Cubs led the Cardinals two games to one in this division series Game 4. They’d blown a 4-2 lead just an inning earlier, and Anthony Rizzo had homered in the bottom of the sixth to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Schwarber’s homer, leading off the seventh off Kevin Siegrist (who’d also served up Rizzo’s), gave the Cubs an insurance run they badly needed. Siegrist, in fact, was in the game largely to face Cubs lefthanded hitters — even though he had better reverse splits that year — and two of them homered off him in the space of three batters. Karma, I suppose.
Pedro Strop retired the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the eighth and Hector Rondon finished up to win the game 6-4 and the division series three games to one.
The home run was awesome enough standing on its own. To have it be an important blow in a playoff game against the Cubs’ biggest rival made it much, much sweeter.