My number 12 Wilmington Blue Rocks moment is…
Norris Hopper‘s first professional homerun in 2001.
The outfielder wasn’t exactly a power hitter, but the fact that he had not hit a homerun heading into the middle of his fourth professional season was a bit of a surprise.
I had made another road trip to Potomac and it was the final game of the series. It was a warm, summer Sunday afternoon and there weren’t a ton of fans in attendance at Pfitzner Stadium. I was seated in the bleacher seats behind the Blue Rocks bullpen.
I cannot remember what inning it happened or what the score was (or if anyone was on base). Hop came up and popped the ball up to shallow right field. Cannons’ right fielder Dee Haynes and second baseman Travis Bailey both were calling for the ball, but neither backed off.
As the two collided, Hop had already reached second base. He turned to see where the ball was and hesitated a bit when he saw the two lying on the ground. Third base coach (and manager) Jeff Garber kept waving him and Hop kept running.
Haynes staggered to his feet and picked up the ball. He tried to throw it in, but it didn’t go far and he collapsed back to the ground. By the time a Cannons’ teammate got to the ball to throw it home, Hop had already scored.
It was a scary moment in terms of the Cannons players, but both Haynes and Bailey were fine and accompanied their team on that night’s road trip. Hop had his only homerun of his professional career to that point and his only homerun of the 2001 season. I am sure it is one he still has not forgot.