EDITOR'S NOTE: The following column appeared in The Post-Journal on May 11, 2000, two days after Brent Williams, then a Maple Grove High School junior, belted a national high school record-tying five home runs in a baseball game at Clymer.
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One of the biggest high school sports stories in recent memory was phoned in to The Post-Journal about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and I wasn't around to take the call. It was my night off.
Just my luck.
For while Maple Grove junior Brent Williams wrote himself into the national high school record book with his five home-run, eight-RBI performance at Clymer.
I didn't learn about it until Wednesday morning when I picked up the paper off my kitchen table.
I wished I'd been there.
You see, I've covered everything from archery to yachting in my 17-year career, but I'd never came close to reporting a feat the likes of which Williams accomplished.
''You didn't know what you were appreciating until it was over,'' Red Dragons coach Scott Lewellen said.
Even now, it's hard to comprehend, especially when you consider that, until two days ago, there had been just three high school players to go yard five times in a game.
Three. Aaron Hull of Nantucket, Maine, did it in 1996; Shawn Gallagher of Wilmington, N. C., turned the trick in 1995; and Youngstown, Ohio's Ken Lisko did it in 1976.
Make room for Williams.
''Never in my life have I seen anything like it,'' said Brent's father Steve Wednesday afternoon. ''I'm still shocked."
All told, Brent Williams saw 12 pitches. He swung and missed at exactly one. Six of them were out of the strike zone. The other five? Well, at last report, they're in some farmer's field.
''He been swinging the bat pretty good,'' said Steve Williams, an assistant coach with the Red Dragons and a former minor league pitcher whose career ended with a rotator cuff injury in the late 1970s.
''I told him to stay off the high pitch, use his hands ... get ahead in the count and look for the fastball.''
Like a dutiful son, Brent obliged.
But nobody could have imagined how well.
In his first at-bat against Brandon Groters with two outs in the first inning, Williams drilled a 1-0 pitch to left-center, easily clearing Clymer's fenced-in field, which measures 275 feet to left and 320 to center.
''The first one was out of any major league park,'' Lewellen said. ''It went 450 feet, I'm going to say. It was out of sight. It was another ballpark away from us when it landed.''
Recalled Williams: I was sitting on the fastball. It was belt-high and I leaned back, shifted my weight, turned my hands over and just hit it.
''I guess it landed five feet from a guy on a tractor.''
On home run No. 2 in the third inning, Williams worked the count to 3-0 against Groters. Lewellen, standing in the third-base coach's box, wasn't about to have him take a pitch.
Moments later, Williams was trotting around the bases again, slapping hands with his coach on his way home.
''I usually do get the green light,'' Williams said. ''It was inside. I cleared my hips and took it to left field. That one I kind of had a feeling it was going to go.''
Groters almost got Williams with a nifty low curve in the fourth inning.
''I swung and my back foot lifted up,'' Williams said. ''Luckily, I missed it because it would been a weak roller to the first baseman.''
Two pitches later, Groters threw him another fastball.
''It was gone before you turned around,'' Lewellen said. ''He crushed it,''
''I was ecstatic,'' Williams said. ''I couldn't believe I hit three home runs in a game.''
This from a kid who recalled hitting two home runs once during his Babe Ruth days.
But in high school?
Fact is, Williams had hit just one home run in his previous 11 games this season.
Now everybody on both teams knew they were seeing something special. Even the Clymer players, classy all day, were congratulating their rival.
''One time, the catcher (Paul Downey) asked me what I had for breakfast,'' Williams said.
By the fifth inning, dark clouds began rolling in and the wind began to pick up.
''What would happen if this gets called on account of lightning and nothing is official,'' Lewellen recalled asking himself.
Mother Nature must have taken a coffee break.
The rain and lightning never came. The game played out.
And with one out in the fifth and Kellen Wefing at first, Williams, admitting he was looking for another home run, stepped to the plate.
On reliever Chris Legters' first pitch, he took a mighty rip, hitting the ball just under the sweet spot of the bat.
''I guess it cleared the fence with no problem.'' Williams said.
''It was a good 40 feet beyond the fence,'' Lewellen said.
Another souvenir for the guy on the John Deere.
But Williams wasn't done.
In the sixth with the Red Dragons comfortably in front, Williams got one final chance at sharing history.
''(Pinch-hitter) Greg Eckwahl, who has been up six times on the varsity, hit a two-run home run,''Williams said. ''Everybody was paying attention to him.''
Even Lewellen, who was in conference with one of his players on the bench, wasn't locked in on his suddenly Ruthian Red Dragon when he stepped into the batter's box.
One pitch, another home run.
''I didn't even see the ball hit the bat,'' Lewellen said. ''I looked up and saw it go out.''
Added Williams, ''I hit it really high, it got up in the wind and cleared the fence by 10 feet.
Since then, Williams had been besieged with media requests, both print and electronic.
Maple Grove, a school that won state titles in baseball, boys basketball and football during the 1990s, can now point with pride to the national sports recognition it is receiving, thanks to a one-in-a-million individual performance.
Unfortunately, Williams' mother, Gayle, didn't get to see her son make history. She was on the road after picking up her daughter from college at Brockport State.
Upon her arrival at her Greenhurst home, Gayle asked her son how the team did and, ironically, if he hit a home run.
''Yeah, I hit a home run,'' said Williams, without telling her how many.
Finally, he asked his mom to sit down and watch the TV news.
''I thought something really bad had happened,'' she said.
Then the sports highlights came on.
She quickly realized the joke was on her.
And all Gayle Williams could do was laugh.