First home runs hold special memories that live through the ages
McCown, a 19-year-old sophomore first baseman for the Holmes Community College softball team, stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the seventh inning of her final softball game, just like she had done since she was 5-years-old.
She lofted a fly ball to right field and kept her eye on it as she headed to first base. “It seemed like a pop fly to right field to me,” the former Kosciusko High School standout said. But when she heard her teammates in the dugout go crazy she realized she had just hit a homer.
Don’t blame her for being surprised.
“I have never hit one before, ever,” McCown said. “I was excited. I just go up there trying to get base hits.”
And to have her first home run come on the last at bat of her career in front of her parents and grandparents made it even more special.
“I was glad they were there. And a lot of the sophomores on the team have known me my whole life and they realized I had never hit one,” she said. “The thing is, it didn’t feel any different when I hit it than it always does. It was a surprise.”
She may not remember her first-ever hit, but she will always remember the last one.
“Doing so well in my very last game makes me want to keep going, but there was no better way to end it,” she said.
McCown’s story takes me down memory lane to another pair of “first” home runs, both involving my oldest son Ryan Satcher.
After playing behind some outstanding athletes at Lamar School in Meridian as a freshman and sophomore, he became a full-time starter as a junior. Ryan had played some key reserve roles and gotten some spot starts as a freshman and sophomore, but this was his real opportunity.
Throughout his youth league and high school career he had always been a contact hitter who moved the runners around, drew walks, hit the opposite way and occasionally mixed in an extra base hit.
In one of the first games of his junior year against Marshall Academy he was batting second in the order and lifted a routine fly ball to left, but it just kept going. I think everybody was shocked, including the left fielder, when he suddenly was against the outfield wall and the ball was over both his head and the fence.
I was surprised, Ryan was stunned, and his teammates were excited.
But while all of the commotion was going on Langford Knight, the father of one of Ryan’s teammates, was on a mission. Just a couple of minutes later he was back from behind the fence with the baseball in his hand.
It is still in display in our house today — Ryan’s first and only home run.
As much as I enjoyed that moment, my favorite “first” homerun story happened about six years prior to Ryan’s homer, when he was just 10-years-old.
Ryan was a member of the East Mississippi 9-10-year-old all-stars and they were playing a practice game against a bunch of Philadelphia All-Stars.
The first batter of the game was Marquez Dupree, the son of the legendary Marcus Dupree of Philadelphia High School, Mississippi, and University of Oklahoma football fame. The last thing we expected was a home run. Marquez had never hit one before and most of the players on the field had never seen one hit over the fence by anybody at this point in their fledgling baseball careers.
Ryan was on the mound and on the second or third pitch of the game Marquez hit a ball to left-center field that didn’t stop until it landed on the other side of the fence.
I was a little concerned about how that would affect Ryan. After all it’s a pretty bad deal to be on the pitching end of the first little league homer you ever see.
He got out of the inning without any further damage and when he came off the field he ran right up to me with a wide-eyed look on his face and said: “Did you see that home run? That was awesome!”
Yep, first home runs are indeed awesome. And for the very fortunate few like McCown, so are the last ones.
Austin Bishop, AKA The Old Sports Dude, has been covering high school, college, amateur and professional sports since 1975. He will be retiring from the journalism business at the conclusion of 2021. He is currently pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia, Miss. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.