Baseball fans everywhereâ€”even those who despise the St. Louis Cardinalsâ€”can appreciate the electric moment last night in St. Louis when Rick Ankiel, with a one-handed flick of the bat, drove a 384-foot home run into the ethernet of baseball history.
Dean Barnett captures it well, from the perspective of a non Cardinals fan.
As a lifelong Cardinals' fan, I can tell you that Ankiel has an almost mythical status in Cardinal country. First, he was going to be the generation's version of Sandy Koufax, the once-in-a-lifetime talent with a 97 mph fastball and free-drop rollercoaster curveball. When he gave up pitching and started playing the outfield, all Cardinals' fans I know were keeping one eye on his progress to see if "Young Musial," as some called him, could somehow follow in the rare footsteps of those who convert from a pitcher to a hitter.
It will be fascinating to see how far Ankiel's considerable talent can take him. Probably not as far as the myth, but he's given us all another reason to learn from his perseverance.