In 2019, Skye Bolt almost hit a homer.
The day was May 4, and he was playing in his second career MLB game for the Oakland A’s. They were in Pittsburgh facing the Pirates, his father’s favorite team, and he came off the bench as a pinch-hitter against reliever Keone Kela. Bolt blasted the 2-2 pitch deep to right field, measured by Statcast at 104.4 mph off the bat and 384 feet in distance.
It would have gone out at the Coliseum and most other stadiums, and indeed he initially thought he’d homered. But PNC Park has a particularly high RF wall, and it bounced off the very top and stayed in play. It was still Bolt’s first MLB hit, but he settled for a double instead of the dinger he probably deserved, and he had to hustle just to get to second base in time.
Sky: Pouring— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 5, 2019
Congrats to @Skyebolt20 on his first @MLB hit!#RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/FTrKXRgOy3
That wall is 21 feet tall in honor of iconic right fielder Roberto Clemente, who wore jersey No. 21 during his Hall of Fame career for the club. Bolt’s drive missed going over by just a foot or two.
That was the last time he got a hit in the majors. Bolt only played three more games the rest of that year, going hitless in another eight plate appearances to finish the season 1-for-10 with a walk. Then the pandemic wiped out the minors in 2020 and shortened the MLB campaign, and he never got the call that summer.
Now it’s 2021, and he’s getting his next chance in the bigs. In April he went across the Bay for a brief tryout with the Giants, but he struck out in his only at-bat for San Francisco. He returned to the A’s and they brought him up to Oakland this month while Ramon Laureano is injured.
Bolt appeared in five games off the bench in the late innings, and on Thursday he got his first start of the year, in center field. He went hitless in three trips, raising his season total to 0-for-6. On Saturday Bolt started again, and he struck out in his first three at-bats.
But he got one more chance at the end of the game. With the A’s wrecking shop against the Royals pitching staff, he came up in the 8th for a fourth at-bat. The pitcher was Wade Davis, who is far removed from his days as a three-time All-Star closer but whose name will always strike fear in Oakland fans.
Davis pumped a fastball right down the middle of the plate for the first pitch of the inning, and Bolt didn’t wait around. In each of his previous at-bats he’d taken the first offering, and patiently watched at least one called strike, and then eventually lost an extended battle with the pitcher. This time he saw his pitch immediately and let it rip.
Skye Bolt joins the fun with his first major league home run pic.twitter.com/mD3rgeVxyt— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 12, 2021
The ball went 410 feet to straightaway center, and this time nothing got in its way. It cleared the Coliseum wall, as well as a leaping Jarrod Dyson, for a long-awaited first career dinger. The exit velocity was 103.8 mph with a 22 degree launch angle, nearly identical to the ball he hit in Pittsburgh in 2019, but to a deeper part of a generally tougher ballpark.
It almost happened in May of 2019, and it took over two years of waiting after that. Finally, Skye Bolt has his first home run in the majors.