The Daily News Home Run Payoff contest drought is finally over. In a big way.
Memorial Day was, in a word . . . memorable for two contestants, who each won $1,000 on back-to-back home runs by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez in yesterday's 5-4 win over the Nationals.
Henry Davis, of Media, won on Howard's blast to right-center in the fourth inning. Three pitches later, Greg Brown, of Philadelphia, won on Ibanez' dinger to right.
Until yesterday, the Phillies had gone 41 games without hitting a home run in the Payoff inning. That had tied for the fifth-longest drought in a single season (the record is 57 games in 1988) and tied for the eighth-longest of all time (the record is 60, set over the 1996-97 seasons).
The 78-year-old Davis and his wife Annebelle have four children, three great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
"I've been sending in a coupon every day," he said. "I won a [Phillies] gift pack this year and last year. I buy the paper every day. It pays to play."
Davis said he wasn't listening to the game on the radio when his name was announced but heard he had won when a friend called with the good news.
"[The money] will come in handy - a little gas money," Davis said with a chuckle.
The Daily News was unable to reach the 30-year-old Brown yesterday, but his mother, Maureen, said she knew at least one thing he could do with the money.
"He can buy me $20 worth of stamps," she said with a hearty laugh. "Every time I go to pay my bills, I never have a stamp because he uses them for the contest."
Yesterday marked the 17th time the Phillies hit back-to-back Payoff homers. The last time was on April 30, 2004, when Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome homered in the third inning against the Diamondbacks.
The last time there were two home runs in a Payoff inning - but not back-to-back - was Sept. 18 of last year when Howard and Ibanez again went deep.
There has been more than one Payoff homer in a game 37 times, including three against the Cardinals, on July 14, 1977.
The most in an inning is four on Aug. 17, 1985, against the Cubs, which included three consecutive shots.
All of the weekend's gift-pack winners are listed on Page 69.