Ever go to where Fifth Street dead ends and you can see into Clemens Field?
Pretty neat view, isn't it?
You can see into the ballpark, get a good view of the field. Even sit there and watch a game if you wanted. After all, the direct view to home plate can't be beat.
Many have probably wondered if it's possible to hit a home run all at way up to that overlook. It's quite the distance, but oh how sweet it would be.
Well, it did happen. In 1947 to be exact. And now a local baseball fan and historian wants to see the site marked for what is undoubtedly the longest documented home run Hannibal has ever seen.
"This is documented. It's documented! People saw it," said Jay Draudt, who is quite the overall sports enthusiast — not just a baseball fan and historian. "The guy who did it, says he did it. He has no reason to lie, he's not gaining anything out of it."
The guy Draudt is talking about is none other than Roy Sievers. He had a stellar major league career playing for both Washington Senators franchises, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, but it was early on when he opened a lot eyes playing for the St. Louis Browns (Baltimore Orioles) and coming up through their farm system, right here in Hannibal, playing for the Class C Hannibal Pilots.
"He was a 20-year-old man right out of the military," Draudt said. "We're talking about kids, and a lot of these guys that played in this league got a late start because they were in the military. You were having 23, 24-year-old guys. You got 23, 24-year-old guys already in the majors getting started. It wasn't a rag-tag league by any stretch of the imagination, it was professionals."
It's believed that the historic home run came on July 15, 1947. From what Draudt was able to research through old newspapers, the Courier-Post's legendary sports editor Ed O'Neill described a Sievers' blast as a "towering home run over the left field fence."
"I'm thinking that might have been the one," Draudt said.
Sievers, who is now 86 and lives in St. Louis, remembers his big knock to this day.
"Over the left field fence and over on the top of the street," he said Thursday afternoon.
It's uncertain how far the ball actually traveled, but nonetheless, no one has done it since.
"Baseball in those days, they used a baseball as long as they could," Draudt said. "It's not like (today), they throw out a new baseball every at-bat, or every pitch, or if the pitcher wants one. The umpires have to rub it up I don't know how many dozen baseballs before a game now."
Page 2 of 2 - Just two years later, Sievers was playing his first year in the majors and was named the Rookie of the Year at the end of the 1949 season. He stopped Mickey Mantle from winning four home run titles in a row and he was the first person on a last place team to win the home run title. He did that in 1957 with Washington.
And here's a fun fact, Sievers is the real "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo."
Don't be confused, Shoeless Joe Jackson, the real life ballplayer, was not from Hannibal. However, Joe Hardy, the fictional character in the popular Broadway show "Damn Yankees" was. Hence the nickname and song, "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo." And when the famed play was made into a motion picture in 1958, the scenes that show the character Joe Hardy playing ball is actually footage of Roy Sievers. Not a bad connection to use in the movie since Sievers actually did come up through Hannibal, Mo.
But it's for all these stats and facts, Draudt says there is all the more reason to erect a plaque marker on a post at the Fifth Street overlook to mark the Sievers' home run. It's clear the person who hit the home run didn't have a short nor mediocre career in the big leagues.
"Nothing special, nothing elaborate," Draudt said. "If it's a matter of cost, I'd pay for the marker. We're not talking thousands of dollars, we're talking a sign — a metal sign. I don't know why the city would object, it's silly to object to something like that."
Draudt plans to go to the Hannibal City Council and pitch (pun intended) his idea to members and city officials.
"I can't go next week," Draudt said. "It'll be in two or three weeks with my work schedule."