TACOMA-With the Rainiers trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday night, A.J. Zapp strolled to the plate with two outs and the bases empty and hit his 28th home run of the year.
A solo shot isn't usually anything special in a two-run game in the early stages, but this one was different. Very different.
Zapp's blast to center field wasn't your typical meaningless home run that ended up having no bearing on the result of the game. The line drive was belted to the deepest part of Cheney Stadium, just to the right of dead-center field, and cleared the 29-foot wall that stands between the hitter and history.
The bomb was the first ever to get over that wall in the stadiums history, covering nearly 45 years of minor league baseball.
Assistant General Manager Kevin Kalal immediately left the press box to chase down the shot, successfully running down a family that had picked up the ball on it's way out of the ballpark.
"I had to run after them and wave them down as they tried to leave the stadium," said Kalal.
After a little research, the ball was measured out as a 505-foot blast that rolled another 80 feet in the parking lot behind the outfield wall.
Zapp, who would rather talk about winning baseball games than individual accomplishments, spoke modestly of the feat after the game ended in a 7-4 loss to Sacramento.
"I knew I hit it on the screws," said Zapp. "It was the only mistake he (Blanton) made all night. He was throwing the ball really well and left one out over the plate, a fastball, and I hit it right on the screws."
Rivercats right-hander Joe Blanton, who picked up his 11th win on the season for his seven innings of work, gave up the blast and knew it was hit pretty well as soon as contact was made.
"Yeah he hit that a ton," said Blanton. "I wasn't sure if it was going to leave the yard but I knew it was hit hard enough."
Zapp will forever be engraved in Tacoma baseball lore with the historic blast, as Kalal collected lineup cards, boxscores, and of course the flattened baseball to serve as legendary memorabilia commemorating the home run.
Oh yea, and Zapp won a little bet with manager Dan Rohn, who said twenty bucks would go to anyone who hit the ball over the center feild wall.
"It was wind-aided," said Rohn sarcastically. "He didn't get all of it."
Rohn then admitted the shot being a big time home run, hit as hard as any in the manager's presence.
"I've never seen a ball hit that hard," said Rohn.
Zapp's Blast a First at Cheney
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