Measure of a homer
Curious about how the distance of a long ball calculated?
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Watching Adam Dunn's home run sail out of Great American Ball Park Thursday night, I was almost sure the it went over the Cincinnati sign between the big smokestacks.
It was one of those things you see, but you don't quite believe. But the replay showed the ball did clear the sign by a good 10 feet, roughly 50 feet above the turf in left-center. The smokestacks are 58 feet, three inches high.
A little later, Rob Butcher, the Reds' crack media relations director, announced the shot had traveled an estimated 479 feet.
Not that it matters - Dunn himself said they all count the same - but we were curious:
How do they come up with 479 feet? Could they be sure it wasn't 478? Or 480?
My guess would have been 520 feet, give or take 10 yards.
Russ Jenisch, the Reds' director of scoreboard operations, thought the same thing.
"I said, '479? It had to be farther,' " Jenisch said. He has more than a passing interest. The scoreboard operators calculate the distance of home runs at Great American Ball Park.
Jay Henry was the guy at the computer Thursday night. He clicked on where he thought the ball left the yard and clicked "high trajectory."
That's how 479 popped up. Had he punched in "medium trajectory" it would have said 486.
The other choice is "line drive" trajectory.
It's a slightly inexact science. Jenisch, for instance, thought Joe Randa's home run Thursday, which went an estimated 371 feet, was closer to 350.
"But Jay used a line-drive trajectory with that one," Jenisch said.
No matter how they calculate it, Dunn hits some mammoth home runs.
The one he hit Aug. 11, 2004, off Jose Lima of the Los Angeles Dodgers, went far enough that the Reds measured it rather than go with an estimation. That's the ball that cleared the right-field stands, hit on Mehring Way, bounced onto the river bank and came to rest on piece of driftwood. The actual measurement on that one was 535 feet.
Baseball historian Bill Jenkinson called it the longest-recorded home run in baseball history, edging a 531-foot shot Dave Kingman hit at Wrigley Field April 14, 1976.
Dunn's shot is the only 500-footer in Great American Ball Park history.
Wily Mo Peņa's shot to left on April 14 of last year was estimated at 498 feet.
Wonder if they used line drive, medium or high trajectory on that bad boy?
The Reds' all-time home run leaders:
1: Johnny Bench, 389
2: Frank Robinson, 324
3: Tony Perez, 287
4: Ted Kluszewski, 251
5: George Foster, 244
6: Eric Davis, 203
7: Barry Larkin, 198
8: Vada Pinson, 186
9: Wally Post, 172
10: (tie): Adam Dunn, 160; Gus Bell, 160
E-MAIL THE ANSWER MAN
Question, from Bruce: "I know it's early, but was just thinking... If Edwin (Encarnacion) continues to struggle offensively in the next month, what are the solutions to third base? Would Ryan Freel fill that position, so that Tony Womack and Freel would be everyday players?
Answer: It's earlier than early, Bruce. In fairness, his e-mail came before Encarnacion's pinch-hit in the clutch Thursday night. But the Reds will give Encarnacion lots of rope. He looked like their best player in the spring. I think he'll be at third all summer. But should he get hurt or benched, the backup plan is Rich Aurilia, not Freel.
SINCE YOU ASKED
I've received a lot of e-mails lately asking why Ken Griffey Jr. (left) changed his number from 30 to 3.
It is not a sneaky plan by Major League Baseball to sell more merchandise. It is simply a gesture by Junior to honor his three children.
E-mail your question to email@example.com
Of the Reds' Opening Day starting pitchers in the minors, left-hander Phil Dumatrait was easily the best. Dumatrait, 24, pitched six innings of Double-A Chattanooga's 2-0 loss to Jacksonville. He struck out five and walked none.
Dumatrait came to the Reds from Boston in the Scott Williamson trade in 2003. He missed all of 2004 after having Tommy John elbow surgery.
He was 4-12 with a 3.17 ERA for Chattanooga last year, clearly a victim of the low pitch-count edict. He allowed only 115 hits in 127 2/3 innings.