April 18, 2005
Blake, Nestor Hit Houston Homers
On Monday in Houston, four ATP players traded the dirt of the clay courts for the dirt of the infield when they went to Minute Maid Park and took batting practice with the Houston Astros.
James Blake, Mark Knowles, Jeff Morrison and Daniel Nestor took part in a special batting practice session prior to the Astros game against the Atlanta Braves.
Blake and Nestor were the two power hitters, as both took balls deep and hit homeruns.
Nestor was first to bat, and after getting used to the pitches, he drove a ball that bounced off the top of the wall high over leftfield. For Nestor, it was his second career roundtripper in a big league park. Several years ago he homered at the Montreal Expos' Olympic Stadium, although that was with an aluminum bat.
Blake was homerless in his first effort, but in a second trip to the plate he put it into the seats in left.
Morrison and Knowles, the only lefty in the group, both reached the wall, but neither was able to get over it.
Astros Manager Phil Garner met the ATP players when they arrived at the stadium, and threw them some of the batting practice pitches.
During the hitting session, Astros’ players Morgan Ensberg and Chris Burke joined the manager in giving the players advice on hitting a baseball.
Once the batting practice session ended, the ATP guys watched the Astros take batting practice. They were then taken on a quick tour of the dugout and the clubhouse, where just outside the locker room pitcher Roger Clemens stopped to greet them.
The last ATP player to homer in a major league park was Mardy Fish, who reached the bleachers in Shea Stadium last September during the US Open.