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Blash's blast revives long-shot memories

McCovey, Vaughn blasts in Mission Valley most memorable
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Jabari Blash's blast hadn't yet landed at Coors Field on Monday night when I started thinking about the longest homers I've seen hit by Padres over the years.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Jabari Blash's blast hadn't yet landed at Coors Field on Monday night when I started thinking about the longest homers I've seen hit by Padres over the years.

Was it the longest ever hit by a San Diego player?

Truth is, we'll never know for sure because home run distances weren't measured for the longest time by the Padres … and some of the distances that were reported at San Diego/Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium didn't match the eye test.

Case in point: July 21, 1998.

That was the night there were two memorable launches as the Padres played the Cardinals.

In the second inning, the Padres' Greg Vaughn launched a ball into the upper deck in left. The distance was listed at 433 feet. Members of the press corps were still debating the length of Vaughn's shot when Cardinals first baseman -- and current San Diego bench coach -- Mark McGwire hit a shot that landed higher in the stands and more toward left-center.

The distance on that drive was listed as 458 feet.

I'm wishing Statcast™ was around in those days. The official listed distances were far short in my mind. The following day, they painted the seat where McGwire's shot landed white. From the press box, it appeared to be the period at the end of a sentence.

I've always thought Vaughn's homer that night -- the club's only run in a 13-1 win by the Cardinals -- was the second-longest I've ever seen hit by the Padres.

The longest was hit by Willie McCovey when "Stretch" was a Padre for three seasons in the mid-'70s toward the end of his career. One afternoon, McCovey drove a ball that landed to the right of the old scoreboard. There was an opening back then. The ball landed on the far side of the opening, took a giant bounce and disappeared into the horizon.

Blash's homer was listed as longer than any homer ever hit at Petco Park. Of course, he fired his home run in the rarified air of Coors Field.

It probably ranks as the third-longest Padres homer I've seen behind the McCovey and Vaughn blasts.

The longest registered homers at Petco Park are 458-foot launches by Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. I remember Gonzalez's drive over "The Beach" on April 26, 2009. At sea level, Gonzalez's shot was like a missile launch.

I don't really remember Kemp's, largely because I choose not to remember Kemp.

That said, I've always believed Russell Branyan hit the longest homer I've seen at Petco Park, although his jack on Sept. 24, 2006, is listed at only 453 feet. But it landed among the palm trees to the right-field side of "The Beach." Not the closest palm tree, and not the second-closest.

So my five -- non-scientific -- longest Padres homers were hit by McCovey, Vaughn, Branyan, Gonzalez and Blash, with Jabari being penalized for altitude.

But none of those were the most memorable.

That distinction belongs to Tony Gwynn's homer off the upper-deck façade at Yankee Stadium during the 1998 World Series.

Video: WS1998 Gm1: Gwynn hits his first postseason homer

NOTEWORTHY

• Blash's homer Monday night extended his hitting streak to four straight games since he was recalled from Triple-A El Paso when Hunter Renfroe was placed on the disabled list. Blash is 6-for-15 during the streak with two doubles, two homers, a walk, a sacrifice fly, six RBIs and four runs scored.

• C Hector Sanchez has homered in each of the past three games while replacing Austin Hedges behind the plate. Sanchez is 4-for-12 in the three games with six RBIs on the three homers, the first two of which were game-winners against San Francisco. Sanchez spent the first nine years of his professional career with the Giants, including parts of five seasons with the Major League club as Buster Posey's backup. Since departing the Bay Area, Sanchez is 8-for-16 against the Giants with four homers and 11 RBIs. He has three homers against San Francisco this season -- the first of which tied a game the Padres eventually won and the last two qualifying as game-winners.

Sanchez is 4-for-11 with three homers and eight RBIs against the Giants this season. Against everyone else, he is 6-for-39 with three homers and six RBIs. Sanchez is the third Padre to homer in three straight games this season. Hedges did it twice and Ryan Schimpf once.

• RHP Jhoulys Chacin is 5-2 with a league-leading home ERA of 1.94 in 10 starts at Petco Park this season. But RHP Trevor Cahill, who missed 8-9 starts during two stints on the disabled list, is 4-0 at Petco Park this season with a 0.72 ERA in four starts. He has allowed three runs (two earned) on 15 hits and seven walks with 28 strikeouts in 25 innings at Petco Park this season.

• 2B Carlos Asuaje had his third three-hit game of the season Monday night. He has hit safely in eight of his past nine games, going 12-for-34 (.353) with three doubles, a triple, three walks (a .405 on-base percentage) and four RBIs.

San Diego Padres, Jabari Blash