Jorge Soler once hit HR so far he apologized

'It ended up rolling to a good 530-540 feet'

November 5th, 2021
Art by Tom Forget

Jorge Soler annihilated a baseball in World Series Game 6 on Tuesday night. It flew over the left-field wall, past the train tracks and completely out of Minute Maid Park. It set off a beat writer search party. It was Pujolsian.

It helped the Braves win their first World Series in 26 years. It also helped Soler win the World Series MVP Award.

But, of course, this wasn't Soler's first home run.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound right fielder has hit 121 over his eight-year career -- leading the American League and setting a Royals record with 48 in 2019. And during one summer with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers in 2017, he hit one so far that even he felt bad about it.

"I didn't know the distance," Rob Zastryzny, the Iowa Cubs' pitcher that day, told me in a recent phone call. "All I know is, when he hit it, the left fielder gave a courtesy step or two, which I appreciated."

Zastryzny, currently a pitcher in the Marlins organization, was watching Game 6 with his wife, and when he saw the Soler homer, he immediately remembered the one the Braves outfielder hit off him four years before.

Zastryzny and Soler had been teammates on the 2016 World Series-winning Cubs team, so the pitcher knew of his friend's power. He just didn't think he'd hit one that far off him -- up there with monster shots he'd given up to Joey Gallo and Daniel Vogelbach. The left-hander said it was a backup cutter that just kind of hung there.

"As soon as I let go of it, I was like, 'Hopefully he hits it foul,'" Zastryzny recalled. "But, well, he did not."

It's hard to get a full picture of how far the home run went because even the camera has a difficult time following the route. Zastryzny, of course, didn't know either: As soon as he saw it going fair, he quickly looked down at the ground and threw up his glove to the umpire for a new ball. But someone did end up informing Zastryzny of the distance.

"The clubhouses are up at the top in Omaha -- there's a little tunnel that comes out right at the left-field line," Zastryzny said. "It bounced in between and cleared the clubhouses. I don't remember who it was that told me, but they said it rolled all the way out to the parking lot. I don't know how far it went -- I would guess like 475 feet would be close. I could be a little short. And then it ended up rolling to a good 530-540 feet."

A teammate of Zastryzny's also asked him right after the blast, "Whenever you're mentally ready to talk about that home run, I need to talk to you about it, because that ball was crushed."

Photo via Werner Park's official Facebook page

Unlike Zastryzny, Soler did take a glance at his moonshot.

"Yeah, he hit it and he kinda stood in the box and watched it," Zastryzny remembered. "Which, I mean, if you hit the ball almost 500 feet, you deserve to do that."

The next day, a friend of Soler's came into the Iowa clubhouse and told Zastryzny that the slugger wanted to talk to him.

"I came out and [Soler] was like, 'Hey papi, I'm sorry. I didn't mean any disrespect,'" Zastryzny said. "I said, 'Dude, no worries, it was great hit.' I was already over it."

Zastryzny told me Soler was apologizing more for staring at the dinger than the dinger itself, but he also knew the homer had kind of ruined his friend's start.

"He's just a class act," Zastryzny said. "He's always been that way since I've played with him. He genuinely wants to succeed, but he knew it was at my expense."