40 Years Ago Today, Schmidt Hit the Roof of the AstrodomePosted: June 10, 2011 | Author: Lalli | Filed under: Baseball | Tags: 1970s, Astrodome, Mike Schmidt, Phillies | 3 Comments »
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In the first inning of a June 10, 1974 road game in Houston, a 2nd-year Phillies third-baseman hit the longest single in the history of the game.
After a Dave Cash leadoff walk and a Larry Bowa single, Mike Schmidt stepped to the plate to face Houston lefthander Claude Osteen with no outs and runners on first and second. Osteen challenged Schmidt with a fastball and Schmidt absolutely crushed it, sending the ball towering to center field and on its way well over the fence. Even though Astros center-fielder Cesar Cedeno knew the ball was gone, he did the customary trot back to the wall. But, before Schmidt reached first base, something went wrong. That something wrong was caused by a public address speaker suspended from the Astrodome ceiling 329 feet away from the plate and 117 feet in the air. Schmidt’s ball was hit so hard and so high, that it struck the speaker and bounced all the way back to shallow center field. Dave Cash, who was on second base at the time, said “I took one look and knew it was gone. Then I took another look and there it was coming down in front of Cesar Cedeno.” Fully expecting the ball to sail far over the fence, the Phillies base-runners didn’t break very hard and Schmidt was in full-on home run trot mode. When Cedeno collected the ball, Cash was on third, Bowa on second, and Schmidt, perplexed, was standing on first.
Also confused was the Astros play-by-play announcer: listen to the call here.
It was the first ball in Astrodome history that struck a speaker, but ground rules were in place for such a contingency. The rule related to the speakers is that as fixed objects in fair territory, they are in play. Therefore, on one hand, Cash, Bowa and Schmidt could have advanced if the ball careened far enough away from Cedeno. And on the other hand, if Cedeno got under the ball and caught it, it would have been ruled a fly out.
By all accounts, had Schmidt’s blast not struck the speaker, it would have traveled somewhere between 500 and 600 feet. Those who witnessed the shot said that the ball was still rising as it hit the speaker. Astros manager Preston Gomez called it “the hardest hit ball [he’d] ever seen at the Astrodome.” Cesar Cedeno said he “never saw a ball hit that far in his life.” Michael Jack was left wondering: “I would have liked to see where it would have landed.” I’m pretty sure June 10, 1974 was the only time things like that were said of a single.