Each day this week, the author is recounting notable home runs he’s conceded during his life as a nearly decent baseball pitcher at various levels. Read the first installment here.
Date: June, 1993
Level: Prep League (13-year-old Babe Ruth)
Place: Rollins Park in Concord, NH (Link)
Frequently it’s been the case in my adult life that people have mistaken me for longtime reliever and Dominican Republic native Octavio Dotel. “Excuse me, but are you Octavio Dotel?” people will often ask me, for example, on the streets of this or that American city. Or “Mr. Dotel,” they’ll say, catching up to me as I finish my afternoon jog, “could you please sign this baseball I happened to be carrying for some reason that I don’t even know?”
As I say, it’s a not-uncommon occurrence, this case of mistaken identity — and it’s one which is entirely illuminated by the home run I conceded to Jared Birmingham at Rollins Park in 1993.
As the image above illustrates, the particular section of Rollins Park in which the baseball field is situated also features a softball field. The diamonds of those two fields occupy opposing diagonal corners of a giant rectangular area, such that a ball hit on a line at either of them (i.e. either of those fields) can roll for quite some distance before coming to rest — even in the direction (in the case of the baseball field) of the relatively close right-field wall.
During a game at the completion of my seventh-grade season, my particular and locally sponsored Babe Ruth team was facing Birmingham’s particular and locally sponsored Babe Ruth team. During an inning that doesn’t matter and on a count that’s unimportant now, the right-handed Birmingham hit an opposite-field line drive that fell between the center- and right-fielders, rolling for some time.
Did it hit the wall? I don’t know, nor is the detail important. What I do remember, however — or am at least pretending to remember for the sake of this narrative — is Birmingham scoring on an inside-the-park home run.
As I say, this is the event which has created the confusion for so many between me and Dotel. And here’s why: six years later, that same Jared Birmingham who’d homered against me — he shared Rookie of the Year honors in the NEWMAC baseball conference with current Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia. In August of 2010, Chris Denorfia himself hit an inside-the-park home run against then-Dodgers reliever and also Dominican Republic native Octavio Dotel.
What one finds, then, is that both Octavio Dotel and I have conceded inside-the-park home runs to a winner of the NEWMAC’s Rookie of the Year in 1999. “Peas in a pod,” you might say we are — although only if the “you” in question is a 60-year-old aunt, I mean.
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