"That was probably one of the longest home runs I've seen in a very long time," said Dusty Baker. Juan Francisco violently jerked a low Rodrigio Lopez fastball in the second inning on Monday, depositing the ball some 502 feet away. The ball easily cleared the RF wall, then the bleachers, and then the moon deck. There's already controversy about the precise length of Juan's blast - 482 feet according to Hit Tracker. But for now I'm comfortable saying Francisco's shot is just the second 500-footer in GABP history.
Uncertainty and controversy over home run length is certainly nothing new. Part of the game's draw is its equal connection to fact-based history and myth. We're happy to see our hitters channel Ted Williams and pitchers emmulate Bob Gibson, but who we really want to see are Roy Hobbs and Sidd Finch. The Reds have seen and hit their own share of towering and possibly exaggerated long balls, though none to my knowledge have short-circuited the stadium's lighting system. Since home run distance is not one of those numbers that you can investigate in a central repository like baseball-reference.com, the below list of pre-GABP mythic round-trippers is almost certainly incomplete. Let me know what jaw-droppers I've omitted. Also, check out the video of Jimmy Wynn's shot - that thing sailed.
Longest Riverfront HR, per Wiki*
Hit 2 HRs in the red and yellow seats
1st Riverfront red seat HR
Over the Crosley LF scoreboard, on I-75
@ St. L
Off the Budweiser sign atop the St. L scoreboard
Ball landed in and was carried by a moving truck
|5/5/00||Mark McGwire||473||Reds||Longest Riverfront HR, per Wiki*|
|5/13/93||Kevin Mitchell||-||Padres||Hit 2 HRs in the red and yellow seats|
|8/11/70||Tony Perez||-||Mets||1st Riverfront red seat HR|
|6/11/67||Jimmy Wynn||-||Reds||Over the Crosley LF scoreboard, on I-75|
|4/14/61||Wally Post||569 (!)||@ St. L||Off the Budweiser sign atop the St. L scoreboard|
|Unk.||Ernie Lombardi||30 miles||Unk.||Ball landed in and was carried by a moving truck|
Although Wikipedia lists Mark McGwire's HR of 473 feet as Riverfront's longest, I found one reference to Johnny Bench hitting a shot that possibly traveled 500 feet. That's just the pitcher's estimate, but in any event the story behind it is funny:
A 500-plus-foot blast off the bat of Johnny Bench punctuated the [11-6] loss. The homer's distance might have been influenced by the Count's [SFG's John Montefusco] bold prediction before the game. He claimed that he would strike out the slugger four times. John recalled the homer in an interview with Bill Ballew, one that was sprinkled with some humor. "...Johnny Bench hit the longest home run ever hit off of me. As a matter of fact, he hit the cement façade on the third deck of Riverfront Stadium. When we got back to Candlestick, my mail was stacked up in front of my locker. As I was going through my mail, I noticed an envelope with Cincinnati Red's letterhead. I wondered what the heck it was, so opened it up and it was a bill for $957. It read, 'For damage done to the cement façade at Riverfront Stadium from Johnny Bench's home run.' Chris Speier had filled it out and sent it. That was funny."