Bill Rubin column: The home run trot
By Bill Rubin, St. Croix Economic Development Corporation executive director
For a kid growing up in southern Minnesota hoping he had the right stuff to become a fast-talking economic development guy, baseball's all-star game signaled the beginning of the end to summer. Farewell summer, we hardly knew ye, meaning a rural school with grades K-12 all under one roof would soon spring back to life.
The all-star game represents the approximate mid-point of baseball's 162-game season. Players not selected to represent the National or American League welcome the three or four days away from the game. In the olden days, i.e. the 1950s, 60s and 70s, some of the players may have picked up some extra cash at part-time jobs. Things have changed, including, but not limited to, the use of private aircraft to jet away over the break.
The all-star game got the fast-talker thinking about how players circled the bases after hitting a homer, referred to as the home run trot. Black-and-white highlight reels depict George Herman "Babe" Ruth with a choppy stride around the bases. Choppy? Ruth trotted more than 48.5 miles after hitting 714 career home runs. A three home run game for Babe was two-tenths of a mile maintaining that steady but choppy trot.
Other ball players had different approaches with circling the bases. Harmon Killebrew and Henry Aaron were business-like with their trots, reflecting a bygone area.
Pete Rose sprinted around the bases as if the umpire had a starter's pistol used at track meets.
Kirk Gibson, a former Michigan State football player who found greater success with baseball, had a memorable home run for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series. Two bad knees meant Gibson had one at-bat in the series and it was as a pinch hitter. In dramatic style he made the most of it with a walk-off home run to win the game. Gibson agonizingly circled those bases on painful knees and added a couple of colorful fist pumps around second base for emphasis.
Rickey Henderson put style in his trots, including the bat flip and extra wide turns as he approached each base. Usually talking to himself during his trot, Henderson had a way of showing up the opposing pitcher, the opposing infield players, outfielders, and maybe even the batboy if his homer was at a visiting stadium.
Those Major League trots are far different than what is witnessed at local playgrounds and high school fields. The home run is less common. The batter may be between first and second base before realizing the accomplishment. Hands are slapped. There's pure glee. The sprint may be slowed to include a bounding stride. And of course there's a glance to the dugout to gauge the level of approval from teammates. They'll be waiting at home plate for their congratulations for sure.
In baseball, in life, in business, industry, or classroom there may be the need to break into a mythical home run trot. Have some fun with it. Respect the game.