Jimmy Rollins' Red Bull Ball Park Cranks promotion went off without a hitch on Monday afternoon on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the scenic Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Well, almost without a hitch. They did have to adjust the mound and homeplate placement slightly to account for Jimmy pulling the ball instead of hitting everything to dead center. But once bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer moved the temporary mound about 15 feet to J-Roll's right, Young James started swinging. [photos and video below]
Billmeyer didn't need any binoculars to see just how far Rollins' batted balls were going. Jimmy did have two or three swings that were awe-inducing, but they didn't come remotely close to 567 feet, the record Jimmy was swinging for.
Rollins farthest ball on the day, while swinging with a souped up metal bat, was 463 feet.
The kind high schoolers from St. Joe's Prep came out to shag fly balls way out on the Parkway, but they didn't see much action in their no-doubles defense. The kids were out near the 500 feet sign, and the only way anything got to them was on a bounce.
But this event wasn't really about Rollins setting a record. Even the Mad Scientist who developed the bat for Red Bull, when asked beforehand whether he thought Jimmy had a shot at a record, was hesitant to give his real thoughts.
"Be honest," Rollins said with a smile. Maybe if they had an F-18 jet engine blowing wind out toward center, he could have had a shot, the scientist finally admitted.
But the day was not without its highlights. This here sports blogger won a 5-dollar bill off of the Inquirer's legendary John Gonzalez by taking the "under 500 feet longest ball" bet.
And then there was Jimmy Rollins watching Jimmy Rollins on the big jumbotron they had set up. J-Roll isn't just entertaining to Phillies fans, he's quite entertaining to himself.
So the thousand (?) or so fans who came out on their lunch break didn't see a world record set, but they did get to see J-Roll take a few hacks on the scenic Ben Franklin Parkway.
Not a bad lunch.
>>More photos from the event by Nick Waters [Flickr]