The home run that had Chicago Cubs fans talking all week has a bit of a Southern Illinois connection.
The seventh-inning home run on Tuesday — one that ended up on top of the right-field scoreboard — by Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber off Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist was hit with a Dinger Bat, made in Ridgway.
The blast gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead and provided insurance for the club to finish the series-clinching victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The ball that was hit has been placed on top of the right field video board in an enclosed case for the remainder of the postseason.
Kyle Drone, co-owner of Dinger Bats, said the company has been providing bats for Schwarber since he was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 amateur Major League Baseball draft.
“It is incredibly exciting to be a part of it,” he said.
Drone said Schwarber’s bat is a custom job just for him. It is 34 inches long and 31 ounces in weight, and made from maple. The model number is KS10. It was the same style of bat used when Schwarber hit a home run in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild-card game on Oct. 7, Drone said.
Dinger Bats also designs bats for several other major league players. Starling Marte and Sean Rodriguez of the Pirates, the Cardinals’ Matt Adams and the Indians’ Asdrúbal Cabrera all use Dinger Bats. Drone said the company has fielded orders for Bryce Harper of the Nationals, who was tied for the most home runs in the National League (42) in 2015.
He said the company also has a lot of high draft picks using Dinger Bats in the minor leagues.
“We have a good crop of kids like Schwarber,” Drone said.
Drone grew up a Cardinals fan, he said, but he is a former bullpen catcher for a Double-A affiliate for the Cubs, when it was in Tennessee.
“I am always a Cardinal fan, but I am rooting for anybody swinging my bats,” Drone said. “I would be more than happy if the Cubs went to the World Series and won, and Schwarber hits the game-winning home run.”
The Cubs start the National League Championship Series at 7 p.m. Saturday against the New York Mets at Citi Field. The winner moves on to the World Series.