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The true* home run king

Michael Todisco | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Forget Roger Maris, Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. I am the true single-season home run king. Maris swatted a paltry 61 long balls in 1961, McGwire hit an insignificant 70 in 1998 and Bonds tallied a lackluster 73 in 2001. In the summer of 1998, at the age of seven years old, I belted an inspiring 140 big flies.

Each day my dad would return from work, I would drag him to the back yard with a bucket full of tennis balls. With the picket fence in my backyard standing maybe 100 feet from the improvised home plate, I would take aim for the neighbor’s house in the distance with each cut of the bat. That summer, as America was infatuated with McGwire and Sosa’s home run chase, I quietly etched my name into baseball’s record books, a true dark horse, obliterating one of the most hallowed marks.

Clearly this logic is asinine. My “record” was achieved hitting tennis balls with an aluminum bat, pitches topping out at maybe 25 miles per hour, and a generous umpire on fair or foul calls (thanks, Dad). Bond’s record (although it may have an asterisk of its own) was achieved facing formidable fastballs and behemoth ballpark fences.

Comparing what I did to the legends of the long knocks is unfair to both sides. Each record was accomplished against different competition and should be celebrated separately; Bonds has Cooperstown, while my record is inscribed on the back of a Christmas ornament, proudly displayed each December.

If only the national media could have seen the fallacy in such an argument over winter break when the UConn women’s basketball team won their 89th consecutive game. ESPN touted the accomplishment as breaking the streak set in 1974 by UCLA.

But the sports are completely different; different strategies, styles of play, ball-size and three-point lines. Men’s and women’s basketball are distinctly separate, and the records should be viewed as such.

Am I being chauvinistic? Not one bit. This is not about men and women; it’s about respecting the history of different sports and levels of play. Heisman Trophies are not compared to NFL MVP awards. Those accomplishments lie strictly within the confines of their leagues. As a nation we don’t see the need to compare Tom Brady and Cam Newton (speaking of asterisks, cough cough). Heisman Trophy winners and MVP’s are celebrated separately.

So was what I did as a seven year old more impressive than Barry Bonds 2001 season? Is the current UConn women’s team better than the 1974 UCLA men’s team? While one of the preceding answers is blatantly more obvious, there is no need to even engage in debate.