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2 Players Who Knew How to Hit 'Em Discuss Homer Spree

July 19, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Boog Powell and Rocky Colavito, who both ranked among the dominant sluggers of their era, disagree over the reason for this season's increase in home runs.

Colavito, who hit 374 homers over a 14-year career that began in 1955, attributes the offense to a livelier ball. Powell, who hit 339 homers over a 17-year career from 1961-1977, sees a combination of factors.

"The answer may be the baseball," said Powell, one of 50 players taking part in an Old-Timers game at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. "But it could be a combination of bad pitching, stronger players from the weight training, lighter, more springy bats and the baseball."

Powell, now a Florida marina operator, agrees a change has taken place in the game.

"When I see little guys who have never hit more than 2-3 home runs a year hitting them out to the opposite field, I have to think there's something unusual happening or that something unusual has happened," Powell said.

"No question, it's the juiced-up baseball," said Colavito. "The little guys are making good contact, but they're not driving the ball like we did; but they're flying out of the park anyway."

Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson offered another factor.

"There are still good pitchers, even great pitchers," Robinson said. "But a good staff top-to-bottom is rare anymore. Add that to the other factors and you have more and more home runs."

Former National League catcher Joe Garagiola says one or more players could reach the 50-homer plateau this season.

"I never hit more than six home runs a year," he said. "But I'd hit 15-20 a year the way it is now. I look for a few guys who could get 50 or more this season. Mark McGwire, George Bell and Mike Schmidt certainly are capable."

"You know, this is not all bad," said Robinson. "The fans like to see home runs, although it drives managers crazy to have them hit against their pitchers. It's a cyclical thing; it will settle down after a couple of years."

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