Bob Elliott's, third article in a series on the BC Baseball Coaching Convention, Annual Banquet, Matt Nokes, and more...
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
LANGLEY, BC _ Masterful Master of Ceremonies Rob Fai was winding his way through a Q and A session with former slugger Matt Nokes at annual BC Baseball Coaching Conference banquet at the Sandman Hotel.
Then, Fai went to a changeup:
“Which is more difficult hitting a home run off Todd Stottlemyre or … landing a plane on a freeway?”
Well, Fai had done his homework and knew that Nokes, who hit 131 homers with the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles in his 11-year career, had taken Stottlemyre deep seven times … more than any other pitcher he faced.
And Fai also knew about Nokes’ landing on Interstate 15 north of San Diego in the catcher’s Lancair IV four-seat, low-wing plane.
“Hitting a home run is something that’s a knack, it’s a feel,” Nokes told the audience. “Landing a plane on the freeway, same thing. I had just gotten a brand new plane. So I’m 3,000 feet up and the BMW engine goes out.
“I climb, I’m looking around and there’s no place to land. There are rolling hills and some cows.”
After taking off from Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Calif. he realized he could not make the nearest airport and estimates he glided seven miles around 1:45 on a Friday afternoon. Then he saw the highway.