Absolutely crushed! Henderson's 462-foot HR longest to land on Eutaw Street

June 11th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- When fans walk along Eutaw Street at Camden Yards, many stop to look at the markers commemorating the home run balls that have landed there. One has always stood out from the others: the bronze baseball-shaped plaque fixated on the outside wall of the warehouse for the 465-foot homer belted by Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. in the 1993 Home Run Derby.

It’s the only time a ball has hit the warehouse -- stationed well beyond the right-field seats and flag court -- on the fly. But maybe could join Griffey in his exclusive club of one someday.

Henderson came quite close Sunday afternoon, when he made history in his own way.

With a majestic three-run homer in the seventh inning of the Orioles’ 11-3 win over the Royals, Henderson belted the longest home run to land on Eutaw Street during a game in Camden Yards’ 31-year history. It traveled a Statcast-projected 462 feet, leaving Henderson’s bat at an exit velocity of 113.8 mph and with a launch angle of 27 degrees, and he immediately knew it was gone, standing for a few moments to watch it travel through the air.

“I felt like that one was a good one to look at a little bit,” Henderson said.

Not only did Henderson notch his first Eutaw homer -- and the 120th in ballpark history -- but it hit the ground so emphatically that it bounced up and hit the warehouse, connecting with the brick surface next to a second-story window and caroming back toward fans walking the street.

The previous record for the longest Eutaw Street homer in a game was 443 feet, shared by the Orioles' Anthony Santander (Aug. 24, 2021) and the Expos' Henry Rodriguez (June 17, 1997).

Remember, Henderson is only 21 years old. He hasn’t even fully grown up yet.

“I feel like when I finally get to the man-strength phase, I might be able to get a little bit further,” Henderson joked.

Henderson was grinning when he said that, but it may be possible. MLB Pipeline’s former No. 1 overall prospect is only getting better as he gains big league experience. He’s shown that during his recent torrid stretch, as he’s been swinging the hottest bat in Baltimore’s lineup.

Since the beginning of June, Henderson is 11-for-24 (.458) with four home runs and seven RBIs in seven games. He hit late go-ahead homers in the Orioles’ wins at San Francisco on June 2 and at Milwaukee on Thursday. And he also went deep in each of the final two contests of this weekend’s three-game sweep of Kansas City, which moved the O’s (41-24) 17 games above .500 for the first time since July 26, 2016.

Sunday’s record-breaking blast off Royals right-hander Jackson Kowar was the longest of Henderson’s 91-game big league career and the longest hit by a Baltimore player this season. It was also the hardest-hit homer from an Oriole this year.

“An absolute moonshot,” said outfielder , who reached base five times and hit a 390-foot homer of his own in the victory.

Henderson entered the 2023 season as the overwhelming favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. But he struggled for much of the first two months, entering June with a .201/.332/.370 slash line. His average dipped as low as .170 on May 12.

Nobody in Baltimore’s clubhouse was calling the talented infielder, who was selected by the O’s in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft, a bust. Everyone knew a breakout was inevitably coming for Henderson. And now, it’s happening, as he's improved his season slash line to .236/.349/.455.

“He’s on a heater right now, man,” right-hander Kyle Gibson said. “He’s seeing the ball really well. He’s put together at-bats all year long. I know he hasn’t had something to show for it early in the season, but he’s a guy that’s not deviating from his plan. He knows the type of hitter he is.”

Manager Brandon Hyde has capitalized by moving Henderson into the leadoff spot each of the past two games. He hadn’t hit there this year and did so only twice during his 34-game stint with the Orioles at the end of last season.

Henderson has gotten on base just as often as he’s gotten out upon his return to the No. 1 hole, going 5-for-10 from that spot, where he often found himself in the Minor Leagues.

“He’s definitely more confident right now. I can tell he’s feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate,” Hyde said. “He’s got a really nice approach that when he’s thinking middle of the field and staying on the baseball, he’s so strong and he’s got so much bat speed and he’s got coverage, that good things happen.”

Even home runs that almost hit the warehouse -- something Henderson never previously thought was possible and something he hadn’t even come close to during rounds of pregame batting practice, he said.

Maybe one day, though.

“We’ll see,” Henderson said. “We’ll see when I get a little bit older.”