The secret to Waters' 465-foot splash? Witt's cologne

Superstition helps duo become 1st K.C. teammates to homer and triple in same game

July 17th, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- Before the splash made with a monster 465-foot home run into the fountains at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon came a spray.

While the Royals waited out an hour-long rain delay before their 8-4 win over the Rays, let the teammates sitting near his locker in the corner of the clubhouse know about a superstition he rediscovered on Saturday.

Tommy Bahama cologne. Specifically, the dark blue bottle.

The story goes, as told by Waters, that Witt sprayed the cologne on himself before a game that he hit a home run in last year. He remembered it this weekend and tried again -- then hit a home run in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. He let his teammates know about the hack on Sunday.

“So, before the game, I made sure to put on the dark blue bottle of Tommy Bahama cologne,” Waters said.

What happened next?

The outfielder’s moonshot in the fifth inning was the longest of his career and tied for third longest in Royals history with Jorge Soler, who did it on Aug. 3, 2019. An inning later, Witt followed with his team-leading 16th home run of the season.

Waters and Witt both also tripled as part of the Royals’ four-run second inning against Rays starter Zach Eflin, becoming the first set of teammates in Royals history to each record a triple and home run in the same game.

“They absolutely torched me,” Eflin said. “Gap to gap, getting balls through the infield. Hats off to those guys. They swung it really well.”

After Witt’s home run, Waters found him in the dugout.

“I was like, ‘Hey, just realized -- smell my shirt,’” Waters said. “We got a good laugh out of that.”

Waters and Witt provided the spark the Royals needed after scoring just three runs in 18 innings during Saturday’s doubleheader. After batting .221 through his first 48 games this season, Witt is batting .303 with 20 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs in his last 45 games since May 23.

The results are positive, but it’s Witt’s process that stands out; his homer Saturday was to straightaway center field on an elevated fastball, he pulled a homer Sunday, and his triple was the result of an eight-pitch at-bat against Eflin, fouling off five pitches to begin the at-bat before crushing a mistake in the middle of the plate.

“Now you’re seeing the power,” manager Matt Quatraro said. “For a while there it was infield hits and stolen bases, now he’s showing a whole other dimension.”

Waters hit just .167 in the first 21 games after he returned from an oblique injury, but he’s hit safely in 13 of his last 19 games since June 22, a span in which he has eight multi-hit efforts.

“Once you’re able to settle in and start to get comfortable around guys, you also start to perform the way you’re capable of,” Waters said. “I think that’s when the confidence really starts to come.”

It rises a bit more when you hit a baseball 465 feet with a 112 mph exit velocity. Waters’ homer landed with a splash at the back of the second deck of the right-field fountains -- nearly into the waterfall.

“That was a good one,” Witt said. “I haven’t seen a ball go [there]. I knew he had some juice, didn’t know it was like that. It was fun.”

“When you hit one like that, there’s really no feeling to it,” Waters added. “Everyone talks about that feeling of connecting so well that it feels like nothing. And it was one of those.”

Waters’ long ball was one of three from the Royals on Sunday, although it’s unclear if had the smell of Tommy Bahama on him when he hit his sixth homer of the year in the eighth inning -- but Melendez’s 2-for-4 day was just as positive. It was his first homer since June 17, and he turned in his first multihit game since June 22.

The Royals’ five-run lead after two innings gave starter a nice cushion as he cruised through seven scoreless innings on 70 pitches. It wasn’t until the eighth that the Rays tagged him for four runs.

“That was huge,” Singer said of the early offense. “It set me up to be able to go in and stay in the zone more. I was able to have a lot more confidence in the zone with that lead.”

As for whether the clubhouse will have an overpowering fragrance as Tommy Bahama cologne makes its way through position players on Monday, well, Waters can only speak for himself.

“I know I am,” Waters said, grinning.