Longest day for Griffey, Gonzalez Jr. hits warehouse

Juan goes 473 feet

July 13, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

For all the clamor around Ken Griffey's locker after yesterday's Gatorade Home Run Derby at the All-Star workout, you'd have thought he'd won something.

Griffey did become the first player to hit the B&O warehouse behind right field at Camden Yards on the fly with a batted ball, but he didn't win the competition.

That distinction went to Juan Gonzalez, who may have done structural damage to the joint, slugging the two longest blasts in Oriole Park history to beat Griffey in two extra sessions.

"This park is great for me with all the different levels. It gave me added incentives," said Gonzalez, the Texas Rangers left fielder.

The 23-year-old slugger, whose 23 regular-season homers are tied for third-most in the majors, already had the longest measured blast at Oriole Park, a 450-foot homer off Mike Mussina into the sod farm in center field last July 26.

But that seemed like a pop-gun shot compared to his blasts yesterday.

In his 13th swing in the first round, Gonzalez parked a pitch off the bunting on the lower railing of the upper deck, about 473 feet away from home plate.

That surpassed two earlier clouts, one that traveled 455 feet and smacked off the Sheraton sign just below the club level and another that hit advertising for the Money Access Card, also just below the club level.

"That was some hitting," said New York Mets right fielder Bobby Bonilla.

Asked if the upper-deck shot was the longest he'd ever hit, Gonzalez said, "I can't remember any ones I've hit farther."

Meanwhile, Griffey, the Seattle center fielder, became the first player in the 124-game, two-year history of Oriole Park to hit the warehouse in right field.

Griffey's blast traveled 445 feet and hit a piece of Plexiglas eight feet off the ground. Before the event, he said his only chance to hit the warehouse would be if he were standing on second base and using a fungo bat.

"It just means it will be written about for a while," said Griffey. "When somebody does it in a game, my stuff will be blown out of the water. That is, unless I do it [tonight in the All-Star Game]."

"That was like me hitting a three-pointer when I had to have it," said Michael Jordan, who won the Celebrity Home Run Challenge earlier in the day and traded autographs and high-fives with Griffey.

Griffey beat an imposing group of left-handed hitters yesterday -- Bonilla, the San Francisco Giants' Bobby Bonds and the Atlanta Braves' David Justice -- to become the first to hit the warehouse.

"I wasn't paying attention to it [the warehouse]," said the 23-year-old Griffey.

"This was fun. It's friendly competition. Nobody takes it seriously."

The AL was an easy, 21-12 winner in the team competition,

evening the series at four. Bonds, who hit five homers, was the only NL player to place in the top six homers by distance.

Los Angeles rookie Mike Piazza fell victim to former Orioles left-hander Kevin Hickey's only career shutout, as the Dodgers catcher failed to hit one homer against Hickey.

When roving Orioles minor-league pitching instructor Tom Brown stepped to the mound, though, the balls started flying out of the park.

With the team title assured, Gonzalez and Griffey still had individual scores to settle, having ended the regular round with seven homers each.

In the first session, with only five outs (non-homers) to work with, Griffey missed his first four, then ran off four straight homers, including the warehouse shot, before missing again.

Gonzalez countered with four of his own, forcing a second extra session, but with only three outs.

This time, Gonzalez hit the second deck again with his only homer of the round, while Griffey missed on all three of his shots.

"It looks like I've got to go into the weight room and bulk up like Juan," said Griffey.

HOME RUN DERBY

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Player, Team ........ ........ HRs

Juan Gonzalez, Texas .......... 7*

Ken Griffey, Seattle .......... 7

Cecil Fielder, Detroit ........ 4

Albert Belle, Cleveland ....... 3

Total ....... ....... ........ 21

*-Beat Griffey in playoff, 5-4

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Player, Team ........ ........ HRs

Barry Bonds, San Francisco .... 5

Bobby Bonilla, N.Y. Mets ...... 5

David Justice, Atlanta ........ 2

Mike Piazza, Los Angeles ...... 0

Total ...... ........ ........ 12

LONGEST HOME RUNS

Player ........ Feet

Gonzalez ...... 473

Gonzalez ...... 455

Fielder ....... 455

Bonds ......... 450

Griffey ....... 445*

Gonzalez ...... 445

*-Hit B&O warehouse

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