Ben Revere points to the sky after hitting his first major-league home run in the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday. (AP)
Ryne Sandberg didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought centerfielder Ben Revere would ever hit a home run in the big leagues.
“No,” Sandberg said.
Through 384 games and 1,466 at-bats, Revere never hit a homer in the big leagues. Actually, he never really even came close. There were a few warning-track shots here and there, but nothing more than one could count on two hands.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Revere had the longest homer-less streak to start a career since Frank Tavares of the Pirates went 1,594 at-bats without a homer from 1972-77.
The odds were that if Revere was going to ever get a home run, he would have to use his legs to get it.
But with one out in the seventh inning of the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Rockies (see game story), Revere got a 1-1 fastball from reliever Boone Logan and turned on it.
There was no doubt about it.
“When I got to second base, I didn’t know what to do,” Revere said. “When I hit it I knew I got it good. When I looked up and saw [rightfielder Michael Cuddyer] look up it kind of hit me a little bit. I was trying not to smile, but some of the guys got on me. It was hard not to smile.”
With one homer in his career, Revere is tied with other renowned slap hitters like Pepe Frias and Duine Kuiper. Frias played in 723 big-league games over nine seasons and didn’t hit a homer until the seventh year of his career. Kuiper hit his lone homer in the fourth season of a 12-year major-league career.
Kuiper played eight more years without hitting another homer.
Revere’s drought wasn’t as bad as some, though. Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa didn’t get his first homer until his 1,745th plate appearance and it was an inside-the-park job. Bowa didn’t actually hit one out of the park until the 599th game of his career.
“You have to give him credit for going out there for that many at-bats and to finally get that first home run,” said pitcher Cole Hamels, who also has one career homer. “It’s a special moment. Hopefully there will be more of that to come with not as many at-bats in between. We know he’s capable of doing it, but it’s an exciting moment for him. We’ll probably give him a good time -- the hitters will razz him a little more in BP tomorrow.”
Revere knew he was going to get one, he just hoped it would have come in a winning situation.
“It was just a matter of time,” Revere said. “My game is to hit line drives and to hit the ball on the ground. I get in a lot of trouble when I hit the ball in the air. But this time it went over the fence. I wish we would have won the game, but it was a good feeling.”
Sandberg, who hit his first homer in his 27th game, went just three innings between that maiden homer and No. 2. The Hall of Famer, who retired with 282 homers, knew Revere had the power. He just never thought it would happen in a game.
“He gets them all the time in batting practice, but that was a rare swing to the pull side elevating the ball,” Sandberg said. “He does such a good job with his role of staying on top of the ball and hitting the ball through the holes, but it looked like batting practice for him.”
Now that he has that first one under his belt, Revere has his eyes set on No. 2 … and beyond.
“It’s past me and now I’m just trying to get 400 more,” Revere said.