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The Greatest Home Run

Posted: October 22, 2012 - 12:04am

I’ll never forget it.

It sailed away exactly in the same motionless position that it had when it came floating in from the pitcher. It was Clancey’s best pitch.

Anyone who has ever played baseball knows that the floater or forkball is the most beautiful pitch in baseball and the most unpredictable. It is thrown for the center of the plate because even the pitcher doesn’t know what it is going to do, and it can suddenly slide onto the handle of your bat, or have you swinging weakly at it while it slides outside of reach. It can also take a sudden drop or amuse you by rising while you swing. On any other pitch the batter might be trying to outguess the pitcher, but with the floater he is purely judging the ball.

When someone mentions “the Greatest Home Run,” your memory might carry you back to the one that Babe Ruth hit after pointing to the center field stands and on the next pitch placing a home run ball exactly where he pointed. To the fans that were there, it probably remains as the greatest to them in their memory.

To others who missed that game but possibly saw Ted Williams hit one with the bases loaded to win the all-star game a few years back, that might be their greatest.

I have seen home runs hit in the major leagues, but my greatest happened right here.

I was just a kid sitting off to the left of home plate when Stan Grummett came to bat. I don’t remember what the score of the game was, but I do remember that Stan was a big man at the plate and Clancey Converse, the pitcher, threw the best forkball (floater) anyone ever threw in the league.

I didn’t pay any attention to the count, but I vividly recall his next pitch. It approached the plate with all the seams showing, and it was a perfect floater.

Apparently Stan judged that floater exactly, for he hit that non-spinning ball so squarely and solid that as the ball sailed out over the centerfield fence as far as the eye could see, it did not turn a particle.

Stan came around the bases and crossed home plate with a broad smile. He probably forgot that home run as soon as he got the next one, but I’ll never forget it because it’s the only home run I ever saw when I could only see one side of the ball from the time it left the pitcher’s hand till it disappeared from sight.

If more sports activities were shown in the 20 and 30 years ago column of the paper, I’m sure you would find that Stan Grummett contributed much to the sports activities in Juneau. It is a wonderful way to keep us from forgetting those who in their younger years gave many hours of sports entertainment to Juneau and Douglas.

This is my tribute to Stanley V. Grummett who passed away Saturday. He hit the greatest home run I have ever witnessed. I’m sorry I didn’t visit him more often before he crossed home plate for the final run.

Juneau Empire Sports note: This editorial was written in 1962 by Auke Bay’s Erv Hagerup when his former teammate Stan Grummett died in 1962. Hagerup and Grummett had played baseball together in the 30’s.

This column also references Clancey Converse. According to Converse’s niece, Betty West Miller, Clancey was an avid baseball player and as a young man played on the Moose Club team with Hagerup. Clancey was a pitcher and a good hitter and was raised in Treadwell and later in Juneau. He was born with a heart condition and died at the age of 29 in Juneau. Clancey never married and baseball (and the forkball) was his love.

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