SEATTLE -- Tigers outfielder Ryan Raburn hit his way into the history books during Monday's game with the Mariners, an 8-3 Seattle loss. He became the first player ever to hit a ball off Safeco Field's retractable roof.
The first-inning popup went straight up and kept going as it wandered over foul territory near the third-base dugout. The ball seemed headed toward the seats until it hit the roof, which redirected it back into the field of play. It fell between catcher Miguel Olivo and third baseman Chone Figgins, neither of whom could make the adjustment in time to have a play.
According to Mariners media relations, the roof height is officially listed at 217 feet at its highest point, in the middle. However, the trusses that support the roof sit lower, as much as 50 feet in some places. Raburn's ball hit one of the trusses on the side. The estimation from the club is that the ball made contact with the roof about 175 feet up.
"That just means you have power," manager Jim Leyland said. "Anybody who hits it up there, you've got power. When you see guys hitting the ball way, way up in the air like that, they've got power. They just missed one."
By any standards, it's a long way up. The roof literally sits over the lights that surround the ballpark, with enough clearance to slide over when the roof needs to be opened or closed. The roof was closed just before game time on a chilly night.
Even so, the Mariners had prepared for such a possibility. The official ground rules state that a ball that hits off the roof is an out, if caught.