1997 Game Recap: First to Hit HR off Jacobs Field Scoreboard
Record 11th HR of April
Athletics 11, Indians 9 in 10 innings
CLEVELAND (May 1, 1997 - 04:03 EST) -- Mark McGwire set up a target.
When the rest of the musclebound power-hitters show up for the home run contest at the All-Star break, they'll be aiming for the dent McGwire made in the Jacobs Field scoreboard.
McGwire added two tape-measure homers to his extensive collection -- the first ever off the Jacobs Field scoreboard and a tiebreaking shot in the 10th -- as the Oakland Athletics beat the Cleveland Indians 11-9 Wednesday night.
The first one dented a beer advertisement that adorns the left-field scoreboard, an estimated 485 feet away. Fans in the bleachers, an area of the park recently nicknamed "Long Ball Lane," bowed as McGwire rounded the bases. Orel Hershiser stood on the mound and mouthed, "That's a long way."
"That thing was close to 550," said Jose Canseco, McGwire's fellow Bash Brother. "When he hit that ball, my jaw just dropped. I was like, 'That guy's radioactive or bionic or something.' Did you see Hershiser? When you see a pitcher do that, you know it went a long way."
Said A's manager Art Howe: "I thought it hit the sign so hard it was going to come back on the field."
Indians left fielder David Justice took one step, then stood and admired.
"I guess when they talk about the longest home runs, I'll be able to say I saw it," said Justice, whose seventh homer of the season was an afterthought in this home run derby.
"I didn't see it hit," said McGwire, who went straight to the weight room after the four-hour, nine-minute game. "(Indians catcher) Sandy Alomar asked me if I wanted the ball. I said no because I really didn't know where it went."
Vinnie Close of Mayfield Heights did. He caught the ball on the ricochet and ignored fans who urged him to throw it back.
McGwire said he wanted the ball, but Close rejected his offer to trade a bat for it.
"He didn't want a bat," McGwire said. "He wanted the ball."
Another fan said it was enough just to see McGwire hit it.
"I had seen two things I'll always remember in sports: Darryl Dawkins shattering a backboard and the Harlem Globetrotters losing a game," said Bill Miller of Strongsville. "This is right there with those things."
No one had even hit the scoreboard in batting practice at Jacobs Field, which opened in 1994.
It wasn't even McGwire's longest home run this season. On April 20, he hit a 491-foot homer over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium. He hit a 488-foot homer at Skydome last year.
"It's nice to see the reaction of the players on the other team," McGwire said. "I've just never been the type since I was a little kid to judge that type of thing."
The scoreboard shot capped a five-run third inning against Hershiser and gave the A's a 5-2 lead. Canseco broke a 6-6 tie with a solo homer in the eighth, and McGwire came up in the 10th with the game tied 7-7.
"The second one I thought he hit harder," said Canseco, much more excited about McGwire's homers than McGwire.
That homer, McGwire's 11th, was served up by Jose Mesa (0-2) and landed in the picnic area in dead center, an estimated 459 feet away. The A's went on to score four runs in the inning, and they needed them all because Cleveland rallied again.
"It took everything we could muster to win the thing," Howe said. "It's amazing. No lead is safe."
Matt Williams barely missed a grand slam off Don Wengert with two outs in the 10th. His screaming liner to center struck two feet below the top of the fence. After an intentional walk to Justice, Kevin Mitchell ended the game with a fly out to the warning track in center.
The Indians, who lead the majors with 49 home runs, got consecutive homers from Justice and Manny Ramirez in the sixth. They loaded the bases in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings, but failed to score the first two times.
Cleveland tied it at seven in the ninth when Omar Vizquel led off with a triple and scored on a double by Tony Fernandez. Canseco let Kevin Seitzer's popup drop in foul territory, preventing the winning run from tagging. Then Billy Taylor (1-1) got Julio Franco to ground out with the bases loaded, sending it to extra innings. Notes: McGwire is now 7-for-12 with three homers in his career against Hershiser. ... McGwire has two of the three longest homers at Jacobs Field. Juan Gonzalez hit one 460 feet in 1994. McGwire and Gonzalez are tied for the most homers by an opposing player at Jacobs Field with seven. ... McGwire and Canseco homered in the same game for the second time this year and 44th time in their careers. They moved past Ernie Banks and Ron Santo into 12th place on the all-time list.
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