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Softball sluggers are Stewart Park's version of Bonds & Pujols
Old Chicago softball players Brent Montague, left, and Troy Trollope consistently clear the 300-foot signs at Stewart Park.

While recent injuries have slowed the home run pace of Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds, the potent bats of Brent Montague and Troy Trollope continue to send balls soaring out of Stewart Park.

Nobody locally crushes a softball more often than the 250-pound Montague and the 190-pound Trollope, who play for the talented Old Chicago team in the top division of the Billings men's slowpitch league.

"My thing is to get in there and pretty much follow the old adage of just grip it and rip it," said the 6-foot-4 Montague, before stepping into the batter's box at a recent game and swinging away with his 34-inch composite bat. "Wherever it goes it goes."

Where the florescent green balls go is usually high in the sky at the softball complex and well beyond the fences situated 300 feet away.

"He's stronger than hell and he's patient," teammate Brad Zimmer said of Montague. "He doesn't swing at a lot of bad pitches. Troy doesn't either."

According to many, Montague ranks right there with the most prolific big boppers to ever turn on a floater at Stewart Park. Some estimates have the former Montana State-Billings basketball star swatting 75 or more round-trippers this summer.

"His presence at the plate is definitely intimidating," said the 5-11 Trollope. "It's real impressive when he does get a hold of one. It's up in the lights."

Or over the houses that are located well beyond the fence on Field 3.

Trollope, which rhymes with wallop, is also power personified — although he comes in a much smaller package than Montague.

"I just tell him that little guys can play this game, too," Trollope said with a grin. "It's a good friendship … a good little rivalry. We rib each other a little bit when we miss one."

Moments after talking about Montague's moon shots, Trollope, whose quick wrists generate remarkable bat speed, went yard in his first two at-bats against the Doc & Eddy's team. He'll likely hit 60 or 70 homers himself this summer.

"It's fun to hit one hard, whether it's in the gap or over the fence," Trollope said. "But what I really like is coming up in a situation where the game is on the line and being able to perform there."

Both the 37-year-old Trollope and 33-year-old Montague, usually batting third and fifth, respectively, in the loaded Old Chicago lineup, are really good at that.

Zimmer, an infielder for Old Chicago, said the power-ball team is built around the three-run homer. With their smooth, consistent swings, the well-conditioned Montague and Trollope deliver in eye-popping fashion with a high-end Miken bat called the "Freak."

"Everybody likes to see a long home run," said Montague.

And when he connects, onlookers respond by simply exclaiming: "Goodbye."

Teams in the A-1 division, however, are allowed to mash just six homers per game, so they have to use them wisely.

"There are a lot of guys out here that can hit home runs," Montague said. "More than anything, it's the timing of when you hit one. I would say that's the most important thing.

"We're really not up there trying to hit home runs all the time."

That's certainly not the case with Bonds, who is still trying to catch Hank Aaron's 755 career homers, or Pujols, who was on pace to surpass Bonds' single-season mark of 73 before being sidelined by an injury.

"Those guys are unbelievable," said Montague. "Bonds is the most unique baseball player we'll ever see. He can flat out single-handedly dominate a baseball game."

Philadelphia baseball fans recently took a swing at Bonds' alleged steroid use by displaying a banner "Ruth did it on hot dogs & beer."

What fuels feared slowpitch sluggers like Montague and Trollope?

"They lob it in there to start with," Montague said with a smile. "I don't really have a philosophy or strategy on hitting. I just try to hit the ball hard. Sometimes they go out of the park and sometimes they don't."

Said Trollope, "I think it's just patience … They're lobbing it to you, so you have to be patient and be selective."

Some of Montague's Ruthian blasts have already become legendary.

He has turned the decks on nearby houses and apartments — located 400-450 feet away — into power porches.

"I couldn't give you anything in footage," he said of his longest balls. "I just hit them and then I let (teammates) tell their stories about them."

Surprisingly, Montague and Trollope, who bat from the right side, aren't issued many intentional passes — and for good reason.

"They're probably going to pay a price from the next guy," Montague said.

Montague, who grew up in Marysville, Wash., was a college basketball star at MSU-Billings from 1994-96 and spent several years as an assistant coach for the Yellowjackets. He currently sells cars for Berry's Auto, owned by teammate Gale Berry.

"I'm a right fielder," he said. "I don't have the greatest defensive skills so they kind of hide me out there in right. They put a fast guy next to me and hope he can track anything down that's close to me."

Trollope, who plays left-center, is a 1987 graduate of Billings Senior. He was a hitting standout for the Billings Royals American Legion team in the late 1980s and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization three times.

He played college baseball at Bellevue (Wash.) Community College and Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., but never professionally. Trollope is now an athletic trainer and strength coach for the Billings Clinic.

Montague has been playing slowpitch locally for 10 years. He was spotted in the A-3 league a few years ago swinging away with a wooden bat.

"We couldn't wait to get one of those high-powered aluminum bats in his hands and watch him go to work," said Old Chicago teammate Pat Hennessy.

Ask Montague if he gets a thrill out of running the bases after a homer and he responds by saying he just enjoys the competition.

"It doesn't matter if you're playing basketball or playing football or playing old-man softball like we're in right now, you're trying to win," he said. "As you get older you still have the competitive juices that are flowing. If it takes a home run to help your team out or a single, whatever it takes."

Trollope, who has been playing slowpitch for around 14 years, is what major league baseball calls a "five-tool" player. His quickness and defensive skills can be just as riveting as his homers.

Last season, in a game against rival Red Door, Trollope batted 6-for-6 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in a 35-32 victory.

"If you're talking about the best player in Billings or the best player in the state, you can't leave Troy Trollope out of the conversation," said Montague. "He can do everything."

Against Doc & Eddy's, Old Chicago used up its six home runs by the fourth inning. Montague and Trollope kept swinging away, though, in rapping doubles off the fence in the fifth inning.

Like bowling and golf, technology has also impacted slowpitch bats and balls, but Montague, for one, doesn't get caught up in all that.

"Whatever they throw up there, I try to hit it," he said.

And, as the spectators like to say at Stewart Park, "goodbye."

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