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AT THE OTHER END OF THE RAINBOWS
Rick Telander
April 25, 1977
Catching home runs, not hitting them, is Rich Buhrke's specialty. So far he has nabbed 83 outside Wrigley Field
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April 25, 1977

At The Other End Of The Rainbows

Catching home runs, not hitting them, is Rich Buhrke's specialty. So far he has nabbed 83 outside Wrigley Field

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Buhrke, who chose the wrong path in pursuit of the ball and was trapped behind a fence with a jammed gate, lost the ball to Kieber. Buhrke already had a Kingman, but this was the one he really wanted. With a sigh he pointed to the spot where the ball hit the house, where it ricocheted, where it stopped. If it had traveled three feet farther it would have gone through Martinez' window and dropped, with surreal precision, next to her television set.

Kingman's homer has since taken on mythic proportions. Originally estimated as having traveled a little more than 600 feet, it has lately grown to 650, even 675 feet, according to some announcers. There are even people who claim the ball landed on Byron Avenue, two blocks away. "They should put a plaque on the house to avoid confusion," says Buhrke, who measured the blast himself with a 100-foot tape and came up with 550 feet.

For Buhrke, who lives in awe of longdistance hitters, it is enough of a thrill that for an instant he can share their glory, can be at one end of their rainbows. "It's a bridge of identification," he said. "Suddenly there's a home run, and you don't have time to think. You go and get it, and you come back and sit down and your hands are just shaking. It's an unbelievable high."

He smacked his glove slowly. "You know, playing out here is more than what it seems. To me collecting these balls is like a genre of art. Each one is one of a series. Take Hank Aaron. He hit 755 home runs. I have three of them. Ernie Banks hit 512.1 have eight. Those are home runs that will never be rehit, things that will never be redone. It means a lot to me that they are mine."

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