During Monday’s Home Run Derby, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit some monster homers. But one was more monstrous than the others: it hit the roof of Marlins Park. That’s insane on its own, right? But it becomes even more unbelievable when you have this important information: the roof was built so no player could hit it.
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated detailed how the retractable roof of Marlins Park was designed, and who the engineers consulted with to try and make it unhittable.
Back when the engineers from Walter P. Moore were designing the retractable roof of Marlins Park, they set out to determine how high the roof would have to be so as not to interfere with balls in play. They studied the air density and temperatures of Miami and plugged those variables into equations from NASA. Then they wrote an algorithm “to generate a volumetric approximation of all the possible batted ball flight paths” and then applied it to their Building Information Modeling to determine the final geometry of the roof structure.
NASA used physics and other important science things to help the Miami Marlins design a roof that no player could hit, but even NASA’s equations were no match for Aaron Judge and his home runs of glory.
Take a look at that incredible home run:
And Tom Verducci puts the sheer enormity of that homer into context.
The Marlins estimated that it cleared one girder and smacked against another at a height off the ground of about 170 feet in deep left-centerfield. Think about that: about 17 stories high after traveling about 300 feet.
That’s bonkers, there’s just no other word for it. But if you remember, Aaron Judge’s physics-defying, roof-hitting batted ball didn’t count as a home run. Even though the Marlins engineers had designed the roof so that no player could hit it, they still had to come up with a rule just in case anyone did. If someone actually managed to hit the roof, how would the ball be counted?
So they came up with this rule: Any ball that hit the roof would be treated as a live fly ball, not a home run. If it landed in foul territory it would be a foul ball. If it landed in fair territory it would be a live ball, with the batter-runner advancing at his own risk. If a fielder caught the carom off the roof, the batter would be out.
And that’s why it didn’t count as a home run. The rule had never even been used until Judge’s enormous blast, because no one had ever done it before.
From now on, every engineer designing a retractable roof for a ballpark will have to consider something beyond physics: the raw power of Aaron Judge.
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