Judging a homer

When I was about three or four years old, my uncle took me to a college baseball game. I don’t remember much about the game other than the home team won, at least that’s what I remember my uncle telling me. At the time, my tiny little mind mashed together the game with a Mickey Mouse cartoon and I believed that a giant had stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and hit a walk-off home run. Fact or fiction, I don’t know, but I do know that a real giant hit a huge home run Friday night.

Six-foot-seven New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge crushed a 435-foot homer into
Monument Park at Yankee Stadium in the sixth inning. The shot was clocked at 119.4 mph off the bat, which marks the “hardest-hit home run in the Statcast Era,” according to MLB.com. I think you know where I’m headed here. (Insert obligatory Bull Durham reference.)

To get an idea of how fast that is, let’s compare some other top speeds in baseball. The previous top exit velocity belonged to Miami Marlin outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, whose homer was clocked at 119.2 mph against the Cardinals in 2015. Stanton’s homer traveled 479 feet. Let’s talk a little bit of physics. Despite a slightly lower velocity, Stanton’s ball traveled traveled farther because his launch angle was steeper at 22 degrees, compared to Judge’s line-drive shot at 17 degrees. That’s enough of that for now.

Now let’s visit the fastest pitch ever thrown. The Guinness Book of World Records says Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman holds the record for the fastest recorded pitch ever thrown at 105.1 mph when he was with the Cincinnati Reds in September 2010. (The record is 105.1, but Chapman hits 106 mph on the stadium radar gun in April 2011.) Tack on nearly a school zone’s speed limit to what Chapman threw, and you’ll have Judge’s blast from Friday night.

Judge had already gone deep once in the game, as he hit a solo dinger in the fifth inning. The Yankees won 14-11 over the Baltimore Orioles, and both teams now sit tied atop the American League East at 14-7.

Oh, and the only other thing I remember about that college game: I got a Tootsie Roll from McGruff the Crime Dog, but I’m pretty sure my uncle ate it when I fell asleep on the way home. The life of a three-year-old, right?

Feature photo by Brigham Berthold

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