All American Game : : Story
Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bryant taking his powerful bat to Aflac game

Jim Ecker        
Kris Bryant, a 6-foot-5 slugger from Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, hit a mammoth home run this year that traveled at least 580 feet. That’s 580 feet in the air, not with the roll. Honestly. No kidding.

“It probably went further, but we don’t want to sound too stupid here,” said Mike Bryant, Kris’ father and an assistant coach at Bonanza High. “He hit it high and deep. I was totally stunned.”

Bryant, a right-handed hitter with immense power, hit his prodigious shot against a left-handed hurler. The ball sailed over the 380-foot sign in left-center and kept going, and going, and going. After the game, Mike Bryant grabbed a tape measure and figured out how far.

Let's see, here: There was 30 feet of desert behind the fence in left-center, then two lanes of a road that measured 50 feet across, then a median that was 30 feet, then two more lanes of road for another 50 feet, then 30 more feet of desert, then pine trees.

“It hit the pine trees about one-third of the way up,” reported Mike Bryant, who saw it land. “It was pretty titanic.”

Bryant hit the blast with a metal bat, but 580 is still 580.

“I knew I hit it really good, I hit it really high and the wind was blowing out a little bit,” he said.

Bryant knows that 580 feet is amazing and somewhat hard to believe, but it's true. It went 580 feet. “Only Mickey Mantle can do that,” he said.

Bryant, an infielder, will take his powerful bat to the 2009 Aflac All-American High School Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 16, one of 40 players who have been selected for the prestigious event.

Mike Bryant, who spent four years in the minor leagues with Boston in the early 1980s, compared his son’s 580-foot blast to the eye-popping home run that Reggie Jackson hit in the 1971 All-Star game in Detroit. So that’s pretty good company for Kris Bryant -- Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.

“I got in the dugout and everyone said it was the furthest they’d ever seen anyone hit a ball,” said Bryant. “Yeah, it was one of my best ones. I couldn’t even see it. I didn’t know where it went.”

Bryant’s legend was further enhanced in the “Rawlings Home Run Challenge” that was held in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on June 13 as part of the Perfect Game USA 2009 National Showcase. Bryant belted a string of long, majestic homers that routinely traveled 430, 440 and 450 feet. And remember, that came off a batting-practice pitcher without any wind, so Bryant had to supply all of the power and distance himself.

Bryant finished second in the Home Run Challenge to Justin O’Conner of Muncie, Ind., in an entertaining event that required extra swings to decide. It’s probably no coincidence that Bryant and O’Conner have both been selected for the Alfac Classic. They’re more than sluggers, but everyone digs the long ball.

Bryant, a third baseman and first baseman, hit 14 homers and batted .486 at Bonanza High School in Vegas this season. Bryce Harper, another Aflac All-American who gained national attention for his decision to leave high school after his sophomore year to play junior college baseball, starred at Las Vegas High School, but Bryant and Harper did not face each other this year. Their teams met last year, with Bonanza winning a close game.

Bryant is entering his senior year at Bonanza, where he carries an impressive 4.6 GPA on a 4.0-scale with Advanced Placement and Honors classes. He's had nothing but straight-A's for three straight years in the most difficult classes his school has to offer.

"I hate it more than striking out five times in a game if I get a B," he said.

His grandfather, Jack Braidman, gives Bryant a reward for his achievements in athletics and academics, with an emphasis on both. "I get $100 if I get straight A's," he reported, "and I get $20 if I hit a home run." The way things have gone lately, Grandpa Jack has been digging pretty deep.

Bryant committed to play his college baseball at the University of San Diego in March of 2008, when he was just a sophomore in high school. He likes San Diego's law school, and there's something else, too. "It's right on the beach," he said.

Smart kid.
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