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Archer Allows Mystery HR

Wayne Masut | Senior Staff Photographer

Remember the time you saw a 368 foot home run to centerfield? Not when the centerfield fence is 404 feet away.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer gave up a mysterious home run on Tuesday night. Chicago White Sox lead-off man Yolmer Sanchez drove a line drive to deep center field, where gold-glover Kevin Kiermaier was waiting. Unfortunately, the ball appeared to change direction in mid air.

Kiermaier was in a full sprint toward the right-centerfield gap when suddenly he stopped. The ball was not in his glove, in fact it was nowhere near right-centerfield. The ball had landed in dead-center.

Huh?!

I know, it’s a mystery!

After Sanchez reached third base, the umpires ruled it was a home run. The officiating crew then got together and reviewed the call. After a 1:56 minute delay, the call stood. It was the first leadoff home run of Sanchez’s career.

The estimated distance of the homer was 368 feet which is interesting in-and-of-itself since the centerfield fence is 404 feet away. However, given the structure of the Tropicana Field dome, balls can often hit the catwalk and supporting rings of the roof. Crew Chief Bill Miller ruled that the ball had struck one of the rings of the catwalk.

How is it Possible?

Digging a bit deeper you can see that according to Dinger Tracker, the ball reached an estimated maximum height of 63 feet.

Unsolved Mystery

The C-ring which is most often struck by fly balls is 99 feet above the playing surface. How in the world can a ball that is only 63 feet high bounce off of an object that is 99 feet in the air?

The short answer – it can’t!

The D-ring at Tropicana Field is 59 feet above the playing surface but only about 20 feet in front of the fence. It seems very unlikely, if not impossible, for a fly ball to be 59 feet high just 20 feet in front of a wall and not go over. Especially at a launch-angle of 24 degrees, exit velocity of 94 mph, and estimated distance of 368 feet.

Perhaps the only thing more unlikely than a 63 foot fly ball striking a 99 foot beam would be Kevin Kiermaier simple running 20 feet in the wrong direction tracking a fly ball.

We should know more after the game but for now this has got to be one of the weirdest plays in the history of Major League Baseball. If you want visual proof you can watch the video on MLB.com.

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