Psst, hey Sam! Mickey got awfully close last night

Ken Rosenthal

April 21, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal

Yo, Sam Horn!

It's me again, the warehouse.

Are you going to hit me, or what?

I admired that home run you crushed into the centerfield bleachers last night. But I trembled when Detroit's Mickey Tettleton missed me by only 26 feet, and all those crazies on Eutaw Street pointed to the spot as if a UFO had landed.

Competition!

We're getting serious now, Sam.

We're seeing the first documented cases of warehouse fever.

"I don't want to say too much," you warned reporters last night after the Orioles' 12-4 victory over Detroit. But, proud slugger that you are, you blew more smoke at me than Boog's barbecue stand.

Last week, my roof caught fire.

Pretty soon, I just might melt.

"When I hit one real good, I'm going to hit that warehouse," you said. "I'm not saying I'll be the first or the last. But in the summer, when the ball's flying out, I'm going to do it.

"I know that sounds bad, but I'm telling you the truth. I almost did it in batting practice, and that's when it was cold and the wind was blowing in. I don't want to talk too much, but I will be putting my efforts in to hit the warehouse."

Now that's the spirit, Sam.

But alas, you're no longer alone.

I'm having nightmares thinking about Texas' Ruben Sierra. I'm losing bricks thinking about Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. I'm sinking into the Inner Harbor thinking about Boston's Mo Vaughn.

Randy Milligan, of all people, now predicts that Tettleton will be the first to hit me. Frankly, Sam, I can't tell if your San Diego homeboy is dissing you, or just playing mind games.

"One thing you don't want to do with Sam is get him fired up too much," the Moose explained, saying you'll only start swinging too hard -- "overboogeying," he called it.

No doubt that's a possibility, Sam, but I saw that single you lined to the opposite field in the at-bat after your home run. You're batting .316. You're boogeying just fine.

Of course, there's suddenly a debate about how far a ball must actually be hit to reach me, but we'll leave that for some mathematician from Hopkins to decide.

It's 460 feet down the line if you factor in the trajectory required to clear the 25-foot rightfield wall. But in actual distance Tettleton's homer traveled a mere 406 feet, and came within 10 yards.

"I saw them measuring it on TV," pitching victim Ben McDonald said glumly.

Let's just say I'm out here. And by the way, you can tell your sportswriter pals I don't appreciate their jokes about how I'm becoming as controversial as the Texas Schoolbook Depository.

For one thing, I'm better looking.

Also, I would have charged Oswald admission.

But back to you, Sam.

You start a nine-game road trip tonight. Practice by aiming for the waterfalls at Royals Stadium. The upper deck at Yankee Stadium. The rightfield Hefty bag at the Metrodome.

I'm not going anywhere.

My shatterproof windows can wait.

"I still think Sam Horn is the most legitimate candidate, and he'll probably hit it more than once," said Tettleton, your former Orioles teammate. "I just hope he doesn't do it against us."

Added Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken, "There's no question somebody's going to get it. Sam is going to play more games here than anyone else in the league, and he can hit monster homers. He's got to be the odds-on favorite.

"He can hit it out of any park, at any time. He's so strong, I don't even like taking pre-game ground balls when he's hitting in batting practice. You don't try to catch them. You just let them go."

Sam, some people are skeptical. Manager John Oates and hitting coach Greg Biagini claim a batted ball will never strike me at a point high enough above the field for everyone to see.

Others, like Brady Anderson, aren't even convinced I can be reached under optimal conditions. "I think you're going to need some wind," he said. "Mickey missed by 26 feet, and he hit a 95-mph fastball around his eyes. He goes over the roof at Tiger Stadium."

Sam, forget the roof, and shoot for the moon.

See you when you return.

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