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On anniversary of longest single, let's remember unusual base hits

The Astrodome roof lent itself to some unusual base hits. Getty Images

Forty-three years ago Saturday, Mike Schmidt hit what is thought to be the longest single in major-league history, hitting a ball off a speaker, 300 feet in length and 117 feet in height away from home plate in the Astrodome, the former home of the Astros.

That got us to thinking about weird things that happened on base hits. There are many that we could include, but these were among the first that came to the minds of those on our research team.

Otani goes one better

Last November, in an exhibition game between Japan and the Netherlands, Japan star Shohei Otani hit a ball that went through the roof of the Tokyo Dome. For that he was awarded one more base than Schmidt, a ground-rule double.

Not a web gem

Last April, Joey Rickard led off the game for the Orioles and the Blue Jays and hit a line drive to left field. But what was unusual about that one was that the ball literally went through the glove of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson got a new glove, one with a better web to handle such hot shots.

Following tradition, but forgetting to call timeout

Orlando Arcia’s first career hit last season was fairly routine -- a line drive single to right. But what happened afterwards was not. The Diamondbacks threw the ball back into the infield and Jean Segura threw the ball into the dugout, so that Arcia could have the ball from his first hit.

Except Segura forgot to call timeout. Arcia was thus given two bases because of the errant throw, making his first hit a little extra special.

The triple hit

In Game 7 of the 2012 National League Championship Series between the Giants and Cardinals, Hunter Pence got a broken-bat three-run double. What made this one distinct was that Pence’s bat hit the ball three different times as he completed his swing. The Giants won the game and went on to win the World Series.

Base hit, game over … you lose (times two)

On the same day in June 2010, the Giants and Dodgers beat the Rays and Diamondbacks, respectively, in the same fashion. Each game ended with a batted ball hitting a baserunner. The scoring for such a play is to award the batter a base hit.

The birds get in the way

In June 2009, the Indians beat the Royals on a walk-off hit by Shin-Soo Choo. What was distinct about that hit was that a flock of seagulls in the outfield dispersed as the ball rolled through the infield. Royals outfielder Coco Crisp was unable to field the ball cleanly as a result.

You have to pitch it way outside to walk Miguel Cabrera

In the 10th inning of a game between the Orioles and Marlins in 2006, Miguel Cabrera singled in the go-ahead run as Orioles pitcher Todd Williams was trying to intentionally walk him. Williams' lob to the plate was not far away enough from Cabrera’s reach.

The grand-slam single

In the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS, Mets third baseman Robin Ventura hit a fly ball over the fence for an apparent walk-off grand slam.

But the Mets players were so excited in celebrating the win (which kept the series against the Braves alive) that they mobbed Ventura between first and second base. Ventura never made it all the way around the bases. He was given credit for a single and the Mets won 4-3 instead of 7-3.

Lenny Randle tries to blow a ball foul

If we want to go way back, in May 1981, Royals outfielder Amos Otis hit a dribbler down the third-base line on which it was clear the Mariners would not be able to make a play. Mariners third baseman Lenny Randle tried a clever approach to denying the hit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEsQrwmkASQ">He got on his knees and tried to breathe hard enough so that the ball would roll foul.

The Royals protested to the home-plate umpire and Otis was awarded first base. Randle claimed he was not blowing the ball, but speaking to it, (yes, really) using “the power of suggestion” to get it to roll foul.

The single that became a home run

In 2012, Michael Morse (then of the Nationals) hit a fly ball to right field with the bases loaded that appeared to go over the fence, but the umpires ruled it did not. But instant replay showed the ball was in fact a home run. Morse, who was standing on first base, was asked to go back to home plate and run the bases. He did so, throwing in the pantomime of a home-run swing to boot.