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Friday Bird Droppings: The anniversary of Frank’s mammoth home run

Only one player ever hit a ball completely out of Memorial Stadium. It happened on this day 54 years ago.

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MLB Photos Archive Photo by Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

We’ll start with an update of the current MLB situation:

There is no update.

Okay, glad we got that out of the way. Now let’s move on to a cool moment in Orioles history. On this date in 1966, Frank Robinson hit the Shot Heard ‘Round Baltimore, becoming the first — and only — player ever to crush a home run completely out of Memorial Stadium.

The first-inning shot off Cleveland’s Luis Tiant — who had entered the game throwing three straight shutouts to start the year — traveled an estimated 450 to 465 feet in the air and ultimately came to rest in a parking lot, 540 feet away from home plate.

“The crowd of 49,516 rose as one to watch as the ball soared over the left-field wall — and kept climbing,” wrote Mike Klingaman in the Baltimore Sun. “It cleared the football press box, 50 rows of bleachers and a 12-foot TV camera stand sitting at the top of Memorial Stadium before it disappeared.”

Fans gave Robinson — who at that point was playing just his ninth home game as an Oriole — a minute-long standing ovation as he rounded the bases. The following week, the O’s planted an orange flag reading “HERE” to mark the spot where the ball landed. It remained in place until Memorial Stadium’s last game in 1991.

These days, it’s not unusual to see sluggers bopping prodigious, tape-measure home runs (especially with the rabbit ball that was introduced in 2019). But for someone to hit a ball clear out of a ballpark? In 1966? It was one of the first of the many unbelievable feats Robinson would accomplish in his brilliant career in Baltimore.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with Orioles Hall of Famer Mike Cuellar (b. 1937, d. 2010), one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history. During his eight-year O’s career, Cuellar had four 20-win seasons (including 1969, when he won the Cy Young) and tossed 133 complete games, second-most in O’s history.

Your other O’s birthday buddies are 2004-05 righty John Maine (39), 2008-11 righty and reckless gun-firer Alfredo Simon (39), and 2018-19 lefty Sean Gilmartin (30), who — fun fact — is the husband of current White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The Orioles have been part of a bunch of historic feats on May 8. The Robinson home run was the good one. But almost all the others were quite regrettable, including:

  • In 2012, the RangersJosh Hamilton hit four home runs in one game at Camden Yards. He also set an AL record with 18 total bases in the game.
  • In 2014, Rays reliever Brad Boxberger entered a game against the O’s with the bases loaded and no outs and struck out the next three hitters on nine pitches, becoming the only pitcher ever to throw an immaculate inning in that situation.
  • In 2018, against the Royals, Dylan Bundy became the first pitcher in MLB history to give up four home runs without recording an out. Bundy faced seven hitters, giving up a single, two walks, and the four dingers, as the Royals scored 10 runs in the first.