Long before Josh Bell blasted the Pirates to victory with his first career walk-off home run on Friday night, Jedd Gyorko struck a two-run homer to put the Cardinals on the board in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen scaled the wall and came up short by several feet, watching it sail right over the top of the fence and into the outstretched glove of a Pirates fan in the right field bleachers.
The ball was officially clocked at 405 feet off of Gyorko’s bat, but its final resting place was much further from home plate. The fan who caught the home run, later identified as Jeff, promptly turned toward the crowd and chucked the ball, which cleared the bleachers and riverside concourse to find a new home in the depths of the nearby Allegheny River.
“I put all my weight into it, about 285 pounds,” Jeff told ROOT Sports’ Robby Incmikoski. While throwing toward the crowd isn’t an advisable course of action for every bleacher fan, Jeff was quick to encourage other “true fans” to toss the tradition of returning home balls to the field: “If you’re a Pirates fan — a true Pirates fan and a true Pittsburgher — you will throw away home run balls into the river.”
Major League Baseball announced today that Mike Trout and Christian Yelich have been selected as the American League and National League winners of the 2019 Hank Aaron Awards. The Hank Aaron Award, which was established in 1999, recognizes “the most outstanding offensive performers in each league.” A fan vote is part of it. A special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron weighs in as well.
Yellich, who is a back-to-back winner of the Award in the NL, led the Majors with a .671 slugging percentage and a 1.100 OPS, while leading the National League in batting average (.329), WAR (7.3) and OBP (.429). It was his third straight year with at least 100 runs scored and he set career-highs with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He was the NL Player of the Week twice and stands a good chance of winning the NL MVP Award, though a late season injury will make it a pretty close vote.
Trout, who previously won the award in 2014, led the Majors with a .483 on-base percentage while leading the American League with a .645 slugging percentage and a 1.083 OPS. He was second in the AL with a career-best 45 home runs, was second i WAR (8.3) and, like Yelich, was a two-time Player of the Week winner. He too stands a good chance of wining the MVP though, he too, had a late season injury which could knock him down to second place.