The Home Run that Crossed a State Line
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
When I first started this blog about two years ago, I wrote down a few potential topics that I wanted to cover. Toward the top of that list, next to Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria and Gary Matthews Jr's life affirming home run robbery was a story surrounding one of my favorite baseball players of all time, Adam Dunn.
For those of you who don't remember, Adam Dunn was an outfielder and later first baseman who played for five teams over 14 seasons from 2001 to 2014. He ended his illustrious career with 462 home runs, over 1300 walks, and two All Star Game appearances. He's one of only two players in baseball history to clobber at least 400 home runs while playing fewer than 15 seasons, and he is 11th all time in At Bats per Home Run, averaging a round tripper every 14.9 times he walked up to bat. Suffice to say, there were few players during his era who were as good at clobbering a baseball than Adam.
While all of that is true, it also needs to be said that Dunn struck out way too often. During what were arguably his peak years from 2004 to 2008, Dunn led the league in strikeouts three times. When he hung up his cleats in 2014, Dunn finished his career with 2379 career Ks. All time, that places him third behind only Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome, both of whom played YEARS longer than the former Red; Jackson played 21 seasons, while Thome played 22.
Easily my favorite thing about Adam Dunn from a statistical perspective is that he shares the record for most home runs on Opening Day with none other than Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr.! He hit eight during his career.
Isn't that just a cool fact?
Anyway, I wanted to recount one very special moment from Adam Dunn's career that's been living in my memory bank for years. It's one of those memories that randomly comes up, and for a time I genuinely thought was one of those fake memories, or even proof that the Mandela Effect was actually a real thing.
On August 10th 2004, Adam Dunn and the Reds were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers inside the friendly confines at the Great American Ball Park. On the mound for the surging Dodgers was the late great Jose Lima, who by that point in the season was sporting a solid 4.01 ERA and a 10-3 record. In front of him that day was a Reds lineup that sported a vast assortment of ball players from Barry Larkin and Adam Dunn to Sean Casey and future Long Story Sport subject Wily Mo Peña.
After starting his day with a pop out to Dodgers' second baseman Alex Cora in the first inning, Dunn lined up for his second at bat in the bottom of the 4th inning. After he successfully fought off seven pitches, Dunn connected on one of Lima's fastballs and sent it into Cincinnati air space. And for all I knew at the time, the ball might as well had been lifted up to the cosmos never to be seen again.
But while the ball didn't break through the atmosphere and into outer space, it did do something that I can honestly say has never been done in another professional baseball game. It flew an estimated 535 feet, which in and of itself is almost as rare as an unassisted triple play, and landed onto a piece of driftwood that was floating on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Adam Dunn had not only hit the longest home run in the Great American Ball Park's history, a record that still stands to this day, but he also became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a ball that landed in another state.
Last year, Adam Dunn found himself on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He didn't get voted into Cooperstown, as you probably know, but what was even more unfortunate to me was that he only received one vote and was subsequently eliminated from future votes for the forseeable future. The one solitary vote that Dunn earned came courtesy of absolute legend and all around solid guy Hal McCoy, who was a beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds for almost 50 years.
Now I'm not sure if Dunn deserves a spot in the hall, but if there's any single home run ball that I hope one day gets enshrined, it's the one that started it's journey in Ohio and by man power alone, landed in Kentucky.
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Featured Image - Associated Press