We've sadly come to the end of the line with this three-part overview of the 10 longest Texas Rangers home runs of the 2008 season (Part I and Part II remain available for your baseball edification here and here, respectively), but take solace in the knowledge that we've absolutely saved the best for last. One last quick glance at the Hit Tracker Online glossary for those who haven't yet grasped the methodology behind these rankings:
True Distance, a.k.a. Actual Distance - If the home run flew uninterrupted all the way back to field level, the actual distance the ball traveled from home plate, in feet. If the ball's flight was interrupted before returning all the way down to field level (as is usually the case), the estimated distance the ball would have traveled if its flight had continued uninterrupted all the way down to field level.
Standard Distance - The estimated distance in feet the home run would have traveled if it flew uninterrupted all the way down to field level, and if the home run had been hit with no wind, in 70 degree air at sea level. Standard distance factors out the influence of wind, temperature and altitude, and is thus the best way of comparing home runs hit under a variety of different conditions.
For the uninitiated, we're sorting through these home runs by 'True Distance' first, then by 'Standard Distance' in the event of identical 'True Distance' calculations (of which there are several) to extinguish any possible confusion. With those formalities out of the way, let's dive headfirst into this final installment:
Notes: After beginning what was ultimately his final season in a Rangers uniform with an abysmal 1-for-11 showing at the plate (.091/.286/.091), Laird helped secure his club's first series win of 2008 with a monster 4-for-5, two-homer Sunday afternoon effort that was aptly punctuated by one of the longest hits of his professional career. Garland's mislocated 90.4 mph heater was punished in front of a contingent of 40 friends and family members of Laird (who is a native of Westminster, California), but the tape-measure blast was unfortunately not a harbinger of things to come; the then-28-year-old backstop hit a measly .258/.300/.333 during the remainder of the month of April.
Curiously, only one other home run was belted further at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in 2008 -- a trademark Alex Rodriguez moonshot that landed in virtually the exact same spot in the left-center field rockpile.
Notes: Right-hander Kazuo Fukumori's ill-timed seventh-inning meltdown rendered this neatly aimed Hamilton laser beam irrelevant in the context of the Rangers actually being able to win the game (they dropped this one by an 8-5 margin, and would go on to drop 11 of their next 13 games before pulling manager Ron Washington's feet out of the fire at the last possible instant), but not even that melancholy tidbit of knowledge could strip the luster from this Section 248 special.
Notes: One of baseball's truly magical qualities lies within its inherent potential for surprise; to put it another way, you can drive out to the ballpark on any given night and stand a relatively good chance of seeing something that you have never seen before. It's probably fair to say, then, that nobody has ever seen anything quite like the home run occupying the well-deserved No. 1 spot on our list of the 10 longest Rangers home runs of 2008.
Hamilton socked Bedard's 88.1 mph fastball completely over Section 50 and off the top of a conveniently placed patio umbrella onto the outfield concourse, with the ball presumably being pounced upon by an resourceful fan before it could roll as far as the center field office building. Whoever the lucky soul was that snagged it can sleep well knowing that they own a piece of recent franchise history, for no other Rangers home run clubbed in the last three seasons has traveled as far as this Hamiltonian guided missile, and it doesn't require much stretching of the imagination to assume that if that 468-foot benchmark is again surpassed by a Ranger over the next few years, Hamilton is the odds-on favorite to be the one doing the surpassing.
Seven innings after Hamilton's defining power-hitting moment (outside of the 2008 All-Star Home Run Derby, mind you), departed infielder Ramon Vazquez initiated the walk-off histrionics.