Joe Borchard (right) is greeted after his mammoth shot off Phillies starter Brett Myers. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
CHICAGO -- Putting to use his vast intellect, sharpened in the halls of academia at Stanford University, Joe Borchard became a part of White Sox history during Monday's 9-8 victory over Philadelphia in a makeup contest from a June 10 rainout.
Borchard came to bat in the second inning with Juan Uribe on first, one out and the White Sox down by a 2-1 margin to the Phillies. The 25-year-old switch-hitter noticed that Brett Myers primarily had gone with first-pitch fastballs to the first six hitters in the lineup, and decided things weren't going to change in his at-bat.
Sitting on Myers' 94-mph opening offering, Borchard launched a titanic shot to right-center that easily cleared the bleachers and landed halfway up the concourse. A 12-year-old fan from Chicago emerged with the baseball, dropping his 'Icee' to catch the carom off the back wall. After the game, the young fan traded the 504-foot home run ball for a Borchard autographed baseball.
It was the longest official home run at U.S. Cellular Field, since the park opened its doors in 1991. Borchard's drive broke the record previously held by Frank Thomas, who drove out a 495-foot shot against Johan Santana on July 23, 2002.
Philadelphia reliever Todd Jones, who gave up Aaron Rowand's 20th home run in the eighth inning Monday, joked that the Phillies were surprised right fielder Bobby Abreu even went back toward the fence when Borchard connected.
"It was right down the middle and he crushed it," said Myers of Borchard's record-breaking home run. "I would rather give one up like that than a fence-scraper. It definitely was an impressive shot."
"I think he took all his aggression out on the ball he hit today," Rowand added. "That's the farthest ball I've ever seen hit here, probably ever. He has so many tools and so much to work with, and he's only going to get better. That's the thing people need to understand."
Borchard followed up his two-run homer, No. 3 on the season and the sixth of his career, with two swinging strikeouts and one strikeout looking. Manager Ozzie Guillen believes that sort of all-or-nothing production will characterize the rookie's month of action as a full-time player.
But Rowand thinks there's a great deal of untapped potential that will shine through where Borchard is concerned. It won't hurt Borchard's cause that the pressure basically is off concerning the White Sox's drive for the American League Central title.
Joe Borchard / CF
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R
It's an area where Rowand can relate. He began the 2003 season in an 8-for-60 funk (.133), but has 155 hits in 459 at-bats (.337) since that horrific start. Those totals include 26 home runs.
Prior to Monday's home run, Borchard carried a .160 average with 29 strikeouts in 100 at-bats.
"I know what he's going through," Rowand said of Borchard. "But he knows he's going to be in there, he can take the pressure off himself a little bit and he will be fine.
"People will be surprised to see what a good hitter the guy is and not just his power," Rowand added.
Monday was all about Borchard's power. Although Borchard has tried to maintain an even emotional balance throughout the 2004 season, a home run of Barry Bonds' magnitude distance-wise deserves a little time to reflect.
Yet, Borchard didn't stand and admire his accomplishment, even though he knew the ball was gone from the moment he swung the lumber. The laid-back California native simply went into his trot, as jaws dropped across the stadium.
"I jut put my head down and started running," Borchard said. "I felt it was going to go a long way, but I didn't know how far it was going to go.
"I'm just getting ready for tomorrow and evaluating everything from a reasonable perspective. I try not to get too emotional about things. But if I do get incredibly emotional, I try to do it in a positive way. The amount of energy I can put into anything, I try to make it positive energy."
It almost seemed as if Borchard's teammates, the fans and the media were more impressed with his home run than Borchard himself. Even when asked how it felt to top Bonds, Thomas and Sammy Sosa in terms of home run distance at U.S. Cellular Field, Borchard was a proud man of few words.
"Complete shock," Borchard responded with a smile.
Leave it to Guillen to put Borchard's home run and his burgeoning Major League ability into proper perspective.
"I think that's the longest home run I've seen in this ballpark," Guillen said. "That's the thing we've waited for. We've looked for it every at-bat. It's always come up empty but that's the way, every at-bat, this kid can do some damage."
Forget about the low average and Borchard's high strikeout total. Pitchers should beware of the first-pitch fastball where the powerful Borchard is concerned.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions.