It's a 1-1 count and James Shields throws a 90 MPH 4-seam fastball down the middle. It's Bartolo Colón at-bat. You gotta love Bartolo at-bats, like when he fouled off a pitch with an exit velocity of 101.9 MPH the other day.
So, in true Bartolo fashion, he hits it toward the Western Metal building, high and deep and—while it eventually falls past the decks on the building—unexpectedly, but also expectedly. Once the ball leaves the bat, you might think, "Oh, can of corn." But no, it keeps sailing and BAM. It's outta here.
You can't help but smile because look at that home run. Look at that trot—which was tracked by Tater Tot Tracker at 30.58 seconds, but Statcast shows that it was tracked at 30.591 seconds. It was a home run trot of dominance and ownage. Colón knew that this was his moment, his time to shine. While 30.58/59 seconds seems quite slow for a trot, and it does rank 10th in slowest home run trots since 2010, it's not as though there is a reason for Colón to speed it up. First of all, he's a starting pitcher, not a position player. Second, he's 42. Those should be reasons enough to make a 30+ second trot acceptable.
Speaking of Colón being 42, both MLB Stat of the Day and Elias Sports Bureau tweeted that this home run makes history as Colón is now the oldest ever player to hit his first career home run, at age 42 and just a little over two weeks shy of his 43rd birthday. The previous record was held by Randy Johnson, who, at 40, hit his first career home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the top of the 3rd on a 2-0 count. Statcast data was not available back in 2003, so I cannot compare how Colón fared against Johnson's dinger.
Here is what we do know of Colón's home run with Statcast:
Here's what the @statcast data looked like for Bartolo Colon's HR... This should be framed in the HOF pic.twitter.com/eefjXb32lg— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 8, 2016
To the naked eye, these numbers seem average-ish. A ball with an exit velo of 97 MPH and traveling 365 feet does not seem at all worthy of its own analysis and its own article. However, there's a certain kind of magic to it. There's your historical aspect, your fan favorite aspect, and your feel-good story aspect, and this home run encompasses all of it. It's amazing and noteworthy because he's Bartolo Colón, an almost 43-year-old pitcher in his 19th season in the big leagues. He's become the baseball version of a cult film icon, in a sense. Not the best, but absolutely beloved by fans. So when he does well and makes history this way, you'll best bet people will talk about it, not only because it was impressive from a pitcher like Colón, but also because it's what makes baseball fun.
It was not a cheap home run, by any means. Colón hit it high and hard and it was fair, which is all that matters in the end.
Jen Mac Ramos is a Contributing Writer for Beyond the Box Score. Their work can also be found at Purple Row and BP Wrigleyville. You can find them on Twitter at @jenmacramos.