Published June 22, 2016
The photograph was snapped in the summer of 1990.
It shows Cecil Fielder, aka Big Daddy, taking a stroll on the left field roof of Tiger Stadium, carrying a bat and chomping on a stogie, wearing his Tigers batting practice uniform.
Cecil was pacing near the site of where his most mammoth home run skipped, across the left field roof and eventually over it.
The prodigious blast came off Dave Stewart of the Oakland A’s, who was no slouch in those days, on August 25, 1990. Fielder blasted two homers that day, but the one over the left field roof took the cake.
Hitting a ball out of Tiger Stadium wasn’t unprecedented when Fielder did it, but way more often, those roof-clearing blasts came at the hands of lefty sluggers, because the stadium’s right field roof became fodder for such moon shots, thanks to the ballpark’s geometric configuration.
The left field roof, not so much.
In fact, only Fielder, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Howard managed to clear the left field roof in the roof’s nearly 70-year history.
Norm Cash made the right field roof his trademark blast, having cleared it on many occasions.
One of the most famous home runs in All-Star game history—if not the most—was Reggie Jackson’s missile that struck a light transformer in 1971, which was the only thing preventing Reggie’s blast from clearing the right field roof. Moreover, Reggie’s iconic homer was hit more toward right-center, making it even more jaw-dropping.
These majestic home runs in Detroit come to mind in the wake of Miguel Cabrera’s monstrous blast out of Comerica Park and onto Adams Street on Monday—a shot that measured about 460 feet, unofficially.
Comerica isn’t exactly a paradise for home run hitters, but just as the Internet makes this a small world, Cabrera sometimes makes CoPa look like a bandbox.
I was at The Corner in 1983 when Kirk Gibson spanked a baseball well over the right field roof against the Red Sox.
Just as I can still see Gibby’s home run off Goose Gossage that clinched the 1984 World Series in my mind’s eye (I was there that night as well), I can see his 1983 blast from my vantage point in the lower deck behind the Tigers dugout.
We weren’t spectators that night—we were witnesses.
And Gibson, as fate loves to have it at times, was in the broadcast booth when Cabrera took Seattle right-hander Nathan Karns deep in the same way that the Mafia takes you for a car ride.
All things have to be in perfect order for a baseball to be struck with the violence and depth that Cabrera, Fielder, McGwire, Killebrew, Howard et al did.
A baseball swing is like that of golf’s.
It’s filled with mechanics, angles, hand-eye coordination, balance and strength. So many things can go wrong with it–and even the most minute of those can turn a .300 hitter into a heap of frustrated, confused jelly.
The golfer will tell you that part of the problem is that he’s swinging down at a ball in order to make it go up.
The baseball hitter will say that he’s being expected to swing a cylindrical bat at a round ball and hit it square.
But when everything falls into place with the baseball swing, the contact that is made with the ball can be a sight to behold, as it was on Monday with Cabrera.
And with Cecil Fielder on a hot August afternoon in 1990.