Rollins to swing for Guinness record
He'll use juiced bat, ball in event on Ben Franklin Parkway
HOUSTON - Jimmy Rollins hits home runs, but he is not a home run hitter.
Ryan Howard is a tape-measure type of guy. He crushes baseballs into upper decks in ballparks across the country. Rollins? His homers count the same, but he is not known to make people 'ooh' and 'ah' with every homer hit.
But that doesn't mean Rollins can't take on Babe Ruth. In one of the more interesting promotions Phillies fans will see, Rollins is going to head to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday to try to set the Guinness World Record for longest batted ball. Ruth holds the record at 576 feet.
"Do they know how impossible that is?" said Rollins, when Red Bull first approached him about the idea for Red Bull Ball Park Cranks.
Folks told him the bat and baseball would be, ahem, enhanced, improving his chances. Professors from Washington State University's school of mechanical and materials engineering and the University of Illinois' physics department are creating the technology.
"OK," Rollins said. "I'll give it a try."
Rollins will be using a composite bat modeled after his own regulation wooden bat and some sort of scientifically engineered baseball.
"I hope this is some good stuff," Rollins said. "It has to be the same way a golf ball takes off a golf club. The initial speed is going to have to be amazing. I've hit balls into the upper deck in BP, so I know I can get height. That's not the issue. It's just how much speed is going to carry it? Scientifically, they must have engineered something that is so spectacular that all I have to do is create a little energy. If that's the case then I can possibly do it."
Rollins smiled as he thought about it.
He will have Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, who throws Rollins batting practice every day, throw to him on the Parkway. It will be an adjustment hitting on the Parkway. It is one thing to take batting practice at Citizens Bank Park with a batting cage surrounding the hitter. It is something entirely different to take batting practice on a major roadway with no batting cage and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a backdrop.
"You're used to doing certain things in certain activities," Rollins said. "But I can make it productive. I can start out hitting some line drives then start elevating. Then once I get loose I'll probably get 10 good swings, 10 good shots."
Rollins is not 100 percent certain about his longest homer hit in a Major League game, although he recalled he hit a homer into the suites in left-center field at Veterans Stadium on May 18, 2001. The game story from the Philadelphia Daily News said the ball traveled an estimated 396 feet, although home run estimates at ballparks are not always accurate. Maybe a better indication of how hard Rollins hit the ball came when Rollins flipped his bat at home plate after connecting. The flip angered Cardinals left-hander Steve Kline, who yelled at Rollins as he rounded the bases.
"I'll flip his helmet next time," Kline told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Rollins won't need to worry about any retaliation from Billmeyer. If Rollins connects Tuesday he can flip his bat into the record book.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.