This morning Matt Sebek informed the St. Louis Sports world that today is in fact the birthday of he who once wore a pink jersey – Mike Laga. Included was a mention of the second most famous of Laga’s accomplishments while in town…hitting the only ball ever to clear the roof at old Busch Stadium.
For those who might still remain skeptical and simply chalk it up as a Cool Papa Bell-esque folk tale, we offer Exhibit A…
Oh sure, a newspaper story isn’t always to be taken as gospel, but this wasn’t exactly the National Enquirer boasting that Laga just crushed a ball over the Gateway Arch. What they saw was simply a pitch thrown by the Mets’ Ron Darling that wound up as a potential souvenir for anyone wandering around outside of Busch Stadium.
Considering the timing of the article and the fact that the report made no effort to sensationalize the incident, we’re marking it down as strong evidence that the 130-foot high foul ball did in fact exit the confines of the old cookie cutter.
If that isn’t compelling enough, we present Exhibit B from the hands of Laga himself…
For the doubters chirping up, we’ll concede that the fact Mike Laga himself acknowledges it doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be true, but he isn’t exactly one constantly seeking the attention of Cardinals Nation. Signing a baseball with the words “out of Busch” is pretty much the same as signing an affadavit in front of a judge saying the same. At least in our book.
So while some of the minor details may have been adjusted over time, the story of the foul ball that never came down has remained consistent. In one of the 52 times he appeared at the plate in 1986, backup first baseman Mike Laga hit a ball with such force that it inexplicably found a way to escape the daunting barriers set within baseball’s version of Alcatraz.
All things considered, it made for a pretty memorable strike.
If only he had hit it wearing a pink jersey.