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Going "Home" For the First Time

Brant Morrell

“Ever since I could walk I’ve never been a home run hitter, I let the other guys do that and grab the glory.” says Craig Aikin, Centerfielder at the University of Oklahoma.

Craig Aikin is a freshman Centerfielder for the University of Oklahoma’s baseball team. He’s generously listed at 5’ 10” on the Sooners roster. He’s known for his speed, but he showed at a young age he has some power.

“It was coach pitch, I was six or seven,” says Aikin. “I remember my dad was standing there throwing, he was the coach, and I would get frustrated cause he wouldn’t throw me a strike.”

Aikin waited for the right pitch.

“He threw one in there and I sprinted, absolute dead sprint around the bases and I slid head first into home and it was one of my best memories playing baseball.” Aikin says, “My dad was kind of embarrassed that his son was the guy who slid into home plate but it was okay. I was living it up for sure. “

Giving up a home run to your son is one thing, but imagine when the person hitting it is your best friend.

“I’ll never let it go. My best friend Dylan Herman, he’s a petroleum engineer at Texas A&M, he is done with baseball but he always lets me hear about it.” says Ethan Carnes, a pitcher at OU. Carnes was a dominant pitcher at Klein Oak High School in Houston, Texas.

“I remember, I had two strikes on him and I threw him a curveball and he took me deep. I will never forget that, and to this day, he still talks about it.” says Carnes.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion says for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Hitting a home run is no different.  For all the excitement of the batter there is an equal and opposite disappointment for the pitcher.

“Deflating feeling. I remember it was one of the hardest games to lose because it was my best friend who ended hitting the homer and scoring the runs off me. That’s the one I remember the most.”

Carnes and Aikin still play the game they love. For others, all they have are the memories of the past.

Chase Goodnight played baseball all his life.

“It’s something when you’re growing up as little kid you always want to do. And when you do it. It’s just is memorable. You’ll never forget it.” says Goodnight.

Sifting through the highlights of his career, Goodnight remembers his first round-tripper.

“I had been in terrible slump.” Goodnight says. “I hadn’t been hitting well and I was just thinking I got to get on anyway I can. Hit by a pitch ball four whatever. Not trying to hit it out. Just hit a single.”

In his senior year at Tahlequah High School, Goodnight was still looking for his first home run.

“I put a good swing on it and I take it out of the box.” said Goodnight. “I’m not thinking it goes out so it may be a couple bags here, so I’m breaking out to make the turn and I look up and the guy on first is tagging up. He’s on the base still. And so I stop almost. Come to a complete stop and then that’s when we both see the ball go out.”

Goodnight’s teammate of many years, Taylor Tannehill, was just as surprised as everyone else.

“My reaction was a lot like the guys on first base.” Tannehill says. “We were kind of sitting there. Nobody really knew if it was going out or not.” 

Tannehill never hit a home run himself, but he does know what it’s like to give one up. The situation couldn’t have been any worse. Tannehill was called to mound after the best pitcher on his team gave up 13 runs to the top-ranked baseball team in the state. 

“All of a sudden I hear, ‘Tannehill go warm up!”  I’m like, are you kidding me right now? I got to go throw against the number one team in the state. Keep in mind there is scouts everywhere.” says Tannehill.

It didn’t take long for the overwhelmed pitcher to give up a homer.

“The second pitch, I toss it up there, its gone.” Tannehill said. “I’m like shake it off. I look at my coach and he’s just like it’s not a big deal were down 13-0 just need you to get in some innings.”

Everyone remembers that first one, but what happened next seared this story into his memory.

“So, the next guy comes up and he also hits a home run.” Tannehill says. “So, first two batters I face, back to back jacks. That one kind of sat me down a little bit. I was little upset about that one.”

Tannehill realized then that maybe the pros weren’t an option, but at least he can boast that he didn’t give up a home run to a future St. Louis Cardinals.

“Pete Kozma he hit one off the very top of the wall and I thought for sure it was gone, but there is a silver lining to this story.” said Tannehill. “like to say that I held Pete Kozma in check that day”

The Tulsa native has hit three home runs off major league pitchers in his two seasons in the majors…including one that went viralwhen a fan jumped out of the way of the ball, letting it hit his girlfriend.

But if it makes him feel any better, Pete Kozma still only has a double off Taylor Tannehill.

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