What if I told you that in the 2016 MLB Season, there was a man who fulfilled all of our dreams with the swing of a bat. Would you believe me? Would you scoff and say, “that happens every year” or “you mean, when a rookie gets their first Big League moment?” I don’t. I’m talking about how, in 2016, one man proved to us that anything is possible, even if it seems impossible.
On May 7th, 2016, at the age of 42, New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon did the unthinkable. After 19 seasons, 3,172.1 innings pitched, 233 Wins (the second most for any Dominican-born Pitcher), four All-Star Games, and a Cy Young Award, Bartolo did something no one ever thought he could do.
He hit a home run.
Normally, a game against the 2016 Padres is nothing to write home about. But that night felt different. With the 7 Line in the stands, Mets fans tuned in to hear Gary Cohen and Ron Darling call the game. Bartolo Colon took the mound against the once-great James Shields. After his stint in Tampa Bay and Kansas City, Shields was a shell of his former self. In 2015, the Padres signed him to a 4-year/$75 million dollar deal and he never lived up to the salary. Soon after this game, the Padres would trade Shields for a no-name White Sox scrub, but that’s another story.
After a Yoenis Cespedes two-run bomb in the first, Bartolo Colon stepped into the batter’s box with a man on second. He took the first pitch, as is his custom, and swung at the second. Colon would often see curveballs from pitchers, something that is considered respectful considering Colon’s uncanny ability to slap a double or bloop one into center. Instead of tossing Bart a 1-1 curve, Shields opted for a two-seam fastball.
James Shields made two big mistakes in this at-bat.
The first was the choice to throw a two-seam fastball to a man who revolutionized the two-seamer. You wouldn’t challenge Shakespeare to a sonnet contest, right?
The second mistake is throwing one at 90 miles-per-hour right in Bart’s sweet spot.
That’s when the impossible happened.
As the ball sailed high over left field, Bartolo took a slow jog down the first base line, holding onto his bat with a firm grip. If you slow down the video, you can see that from the moment the ball leaves the bat, he knows it’s gone. That goofy smile of his grows wider and wider with each step towards first. As the ball disappeared into the left-field seats, the cheers from Queens echoed across the country. Bartolo took his long trot around the base paths and you could hear Mets fans calling their loved ones into the room to watch what had just transpired.
The oldest player to ever hit his first career home run was about to cross the plate.
The Amazin’ Miracle Mets had produced another unbelievable moment in baseball history. If you haven’t done it yet, listen to a game called by the Mets Broadcasting crew. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are the perfect booth. As he makes the call, you can hear Gary’s voice crack and Ron’s laugh as the ball leaves the field, and it’s a perfect summation of the moment. It’s crazy, it’s insane, it’s hilarious, and according to Gary Cohen, it is “one of the greatest moments in baseball history.”
And you know what? I don’t think he’s wrong. Not in the slightest.
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