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These epic homers left players in awe

January 17, 2019

If not for Willians Astudillo, we'd be totally lost right now.When he went down on one knee for a wonderful walk-off winner in winter ball recently -- watching it fly as he leaned on his bat and then erupting into an unwritten-rule-shattering celebration on the basepaths -- he temporarily soothed

If not for Willians Astudillo, we'd be totally lost right now.
When he went down on one knee for a wonderful walk-off winner in winter ball recently -- watching it fly as he leaned on his bat and then erupting into an unwritten-rule-shattering celebration on the basepaths -- he temporarily soothed our souls.
But Astudillo's heroics only underscored the fact that we really miss home runs. Our collective dinger dependence is necessarily but depressingly accompanied by winter withdrawal. It's January, it's cold, it's boring and we've got it bad.
Fortunately, we have a bone to toss you. Toward the end of the 2018 regular season, MLB.com asked a whole bunch of players from a whole bunch of teams, "What's your favorite home run you ever saw, in person or on TV?"
We weren't looking for any statistically meaningful results with this survey, just some worthwhile memories. So, because there aren't any live homers to watch right now, let's run through our 10 favorite answers, with accompanying video to help bide the time between taters.
1. Giancarlo Stanton departs Dodger Stadium (May 12, 2015)
If you want to sum up Stanton's Marlins tenure in just a few words, this will do: He hit a ball out of the building, and the Marlins lost, 11-1.
Still, for those who were in the park that night, the final score is an afterthought.
"I'll never forget when Stanton hit the ball out of the stadium off [Mike] Bolsinger," Dodgers utilityman Enrique Hernandez said.
"I got a pretty good view of that one," reigning NL MVP (and then-Stanton teammate) Christian Yelich added. "I think I was on deck or in the hole, and you're on the first-base side at Dodger Stadium. He hit it into the parking lot. Someone was parking their car and got a souvenir."
The ball hit the back of the canopy in the left-field pavilion before bouncing out of the stadium. It was measured by Statcast™ as a 475-foot shot.
"I'm sorry, Bolsinger," Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said. "I love you, but I'll never forget that one."
2. Rajai Davis' walk-off grand slam (June 30, 2014)
A few players we surveyed selected homers of their own. That's totally fine. We don't deny anybody their inalienable right to crow (and if we could hit a home run in the big leagues, we'd probably do the same).
But this was the one self-selection that stood out, because you might remember that Davis hit a pretty epic home run in the World Series a few years back.
So for him to select this as his favorite homer is saying something.
"There was this walk-off grand slam I saw one time in Detroit," he said. "Some guy came up, down three runs [to the A's], and hit a walk-off grand slam."

Davis is one of only 30 players (most recently the Cubs' David Bote this past season) to hit a walk-off grand slam that erased a three-run deficit. In case you weren't aware, there's a name for it.
"The ultimate grand slam!" Davis said proudly.
3. Dee Gordon's homer after Jose Fernandez's death (Sept. 26, 2016)
Just a day after the tragic boat accident that took the life of Fernandez and two other men, the Marlins reported to work at Marlins Park. They all wore Fernandez's No. 16 and drew his number in the dirt around the pitcher's mound and hugged the members of the opposing Mets. Then they tried to go about the business of playing a ballgame with heavy hearts.
Amid that incredibly emotional backdrop, Marlins leadoff man Dee Gordon, who had not gone deep all season, did an incredibly touching thing in the bottom of the first.

"That was really cool," Angels starter Andrew Heaney said. "That was more of an emotionally cool thing. That was very memorable."
4. Kendrys Morales homers in a seventh straight game (Aug. 26, 2018)
Only three players in history have hit a home run in eight straight games -- Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987) and Dale Long (1956).
Morales came up just short in his bid to join that short list, but his streak of seven games, punctuated by this two-run homer against the Phillies, set a Blue Jays franchise record and was the longest in 12 years.

"Four, five, six, seven," teammate Kevin Pillar said. "When he started doing that, you've never seen anything like that before. You're lucky enough to get hits in six or seven straight games, let alone hit a homer in seven straight."
5. Barry Bonds off Eric Gagne (April 16, 2004)
Take it away, Trevor Bauer
"It's the greatest at-bat in all of baseball history, in my opinion," Bauer said. "Bonds had just won the MVP, Gagne had just won the Cy Young. They had an agreement at the All-Star Game before that, if they faced each other in a situation where Bonds couldn't beat Gagne [for the win], Gagne would throw him all fastballs. He limited himself to one off-speed pitch, and that would be his [junk] curveball.
"You can see in the video clip, Bonds walks to the plate and kind of looks at Gagne and kind of touches his hat. Then it's 99 inside strike, 99 inside ball, 99 foul ball like straight back. Then it goes 1-2 backdoor curveball that was probably a strike and called a ball. Then it's 100 up and in ball, 100 up and in and Bonds hits it like 600 feet into [McCovey] Cove but foul. Then Gagne goes 100 in, and Bonds hits it like 450 to dead center."

(For the record, the pitch sequence provided here by Bauer wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it was pretty close. And that's impressive, considering it was given purely from memory in response to a question asked on the spot.)
"It's exactly what baseball should be," Bauer continued. "Bonds knew what was coming, Gagne knew what was coming: 'I'm going to beat you with my best stuff.' It was great. Bonds got his home run, Gagne still got his save, everybody's happy. I ask people all the time in the offseason, 'What do you want to hit? I'll throw it to you and beat you with it.' If I pitched in the All-Star Game this year, I was going to signal to hitters every pitch that was coming. But it didn't happen."
6. Juan Uribe, Game 4 in the 2013 National League Division Series (Oct. 7, 2013)
The Braves had a 3-2 lead and were six outs away from evening up the best-of-five set at two wins apiece. But Yasiel Puig led off the home half of the eighth with a double off David Carpenter. Uribe came to the plate looking to get a bunt down to advance Puig to third. He fouled off both attempts.
Scrapping the bunt idea, Uribe smacked Carpenter's 2-2 offering into the Dodgers' bullpen in left field to give the Dodgers the lead.

"He couldn't get the bunt down, and then hit a homer," said then-Dodger and current Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas. "I was in the dugout, and it was unbelievable."
7. Manny Ramirez's 500th homer (May 31, 2008)
You might not expect the guy who watched this one fly over his head in right-center field to choose it as his favorite homer, but even Adam Jones had to admit this was cool.

"Obviously, it was against us, and it sucked," said Jones, whose Orioles were trailing 4-3 when Manny hit the solo shot in the seventh. "But me being 22 and Manny being in his Hall of Fame [worthy] career at that point, I remember seeing the ball hit and knew it was out. I looked at him, and he was standing in the batter's box. I see him do his shoulder roll. I was thinking, 'This is awesome.'"
8. Matthew Holliday's final homer with the Cardinals (Sept. 30, 2016)
Speaking of players admiring big moments by the opposition, there was this one from the tail end of the 2016 season. The Pirates were the visitors at Busch Stadium when the Cardinals announced before the game that they would not be picking up Holliday's option for the 2017 season.
A linchpin of the St. Louis lineup for nearly a decade, including the 2011 World Series run, Holliday was beloved but his body was battered. The Cards activated him from the DL for that final weekend series, and then-manager Mike Matheny announced he hoped to get Holliday one final at-bat.
That at-bat arrived that very night, in the seventh inning. And Holliday's ensuing opposite-field shot sparked emotion in both dugouts.

"For me," said Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, "being so fresh at the big league level and understanding what he meant to that franchise… I know it's September baseball, and we gave up the home run to them, but that was one of those moments where we were all standing on the bench clapping for him. He's crying up there at the plate, then he hits a home run. That's like fairytale, storybook, really cool stuff."
9. Mookie Betts' grand slam (July 12, 2018)
Another not-so-oldie but goodie. Betts' MVP season had many great moments, but this might have been the coolest. The Red Sox were trailing the Blue Jays, 2-1, in the fourth, with the bases loaded. J.A. Happ was on the hill for the Blue Jays, and he and Betts engaged in an arduous and highly entertaining battle. Ten pitches in, the count was 2-2. Betts fouled off a 95 mph fastball. Happ threw a two-seamer in the dirt for ball three. The count was full.
"It's time to party," NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley said on air.
Betts launched the next pitch onto Lansdowne Street for the game-changing grand slam in what turned out to be Boston's 10th straight win at the time. It was the first grand slam in an at-bat of 13 pitches or more since Gary Scott hit one on April 20, 1992.

"It was 13 pitches, and [Betts] never shows emotion," teammate David Price said. "You never see a guy hit a grand slam on a 13-pitch at-bat. I had only seen him show emotion once before on a homer -- and that was last year, when he hit the go-ahead homer in the ninth at Milwaukee."
10. The Bartolo Colon homer (May 7, 2016)
Relievers Will Smith and Jerry Blevins both selected this one. Neither added any color commentary to his choice. Neither needed to. The Bartolo homer -- an ancestor, of sorts, for the Astudillo homer in the realm of entertaining pokes by portly people -- is plenty colorful on its own.
And if you think we would waste another opportunity to watch it, well, you just don't know us very well.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.