Home Run Derby 2012: 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Derby Homers of All Time
Everybody loves the long ball, which probably explains why the Home Run Derby is more popular among casual fans than the All-Star Game itself.
It's a place for the best sluggers in the game to do what they do best—drive the ball high, far and into the night.
Since the derby debuted in 1985, we have seen a number of memorable performances and shots that made people—both those in attendance and those watching from home—stand up and take notice.
Let's take a look at 10 of those home runs that made us sit with our mouths open, unable to say anything but "ooh" and "ahh."
2000: Sammy Sosa Takes Aim at the Center-Field Cameras
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
While eight of Sosa's derby-winning 26 home runs on the day either landed in the upper deck or put a sizable dent in its facade—an impressive feat—it was a bomb Sosa hit towards center field that was the most impressive.
As soon as the crack of the bat resonated throughout Turner Field, everyone knew that Sosa had really gotten ahold of one, sending it 508 feet to straightaway center field, clearing the area that housed the center-field cameras.
1999: Mark McGwire Makes a Run at the Mass Turnpike
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Less than a year after breaking one of baseball's most hallowed records—Roger Maris' 61 home runs in the 1961 season—Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire was under immense pressure to deliver a winning performance in the Home Run Derby at Fenway Park in 1999.
While he wouldn't make it past the second round, McGwire put on a clinic, crushing 16 home runs through the first two rounds, with many sailing over the Green Monster in left field with ease.
None of those would be more memorable than a 488-foot bomb that not only cleared the Monster, but crossed the street, flew over a parking garage and wound up hitting a billboard right next to the Massachusetts Turnpike, entering territory never before seen by a home run hit at Fenway Park.
1993: Ken Griffey Jr. Leaves His Mark
The plaque commemorating Junior's blast. Photo courtesy of southflorida.com.
Ken Griffey Jr. didn't even want to partake in the 1993 Home Run Derby at Camden Yards in Baltimore, but he finally relented after being booed unmercifully during a warm-up before the festivities began, telling reporters afterwards, "I don't like to get booed."
In what stands as one of the more memorable losing derby performances in history, Junior became the first player to ever hit a ball off of the B&O Warehouse across the street from the ballpark, hitting the ball 465 feet on the fly—a spot commemorated by the plaque pictured.
You can see video of his blast here.
2008: Josh Hamilton Channels the Babe
Josh Hamilton didn't win the Home Run Derby in 2008, but it was he—and not eventual champion Justin Morneau—who put on a show for the ages in what would be one of the last hurrahs at the old Yankee Stadium.
Hamilton hit a derby record 28 home runs in the first round, finishing with 35 on the day. While many of them were impressive—five into the upper deck, another one off the facing of the upper deck, two into the black seats in center field and three that would travel more than 500 feet—it was his 518-foot bomb that hit the very top of the upper deck that elicited more "oohs" and "aahs" than anything else.
Were it not for the piece of the stadium that he hit, Hamilton's shot may still be traveling through the Bronx as we speak.
2005: Bobby Abreu Interrupts Dinner
In what would be his only Home Run Derby appearance, Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu made himself feel right at home in Detroit's Comerica Park in 2005.
Abreu peppered the ball all over the stadium, going deep on 10 of his first 14 swings. He hit the facing of the upper deck with one shot, while another landed on the Pepsi Porch in the upper deck of right field.
Of all of his blasts, the most memorable was a 517-foot bomb that landed at the Montgomery Inn, which is located on the far side of the concourse in right-center field.
1996: Mark McGwire Goes Where No Ball Has Gone Before
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Prior to the 1996 Home Run Derby at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, no player had ever hit a baseball into the fabled "600 section" of seats which resided in its upper deck.
McGwire did just that, depositing two balls there, each having to not only travel well over 400 feet to get there, but needing to be hit about a mile high as well.
1994: Frank Thomas Leaves a Mark
A piece of the seat that Thomas hit. Photo courtesy of ebay.com.
In Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, slugging White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas hit four home runs as part of a balanced American League attack that beat the National League by a score of 17 home runs to 11, back when the derby was league versus league.
One of the Big Hurt's shots was absolutely crushed, traveling an estimated 519 feet through the air before crashing into a seat located in the left-center field upper deck—nine or 10 sections away from the foul pole.
The Pirates would mark the seat with a star and have both Thomas and the coach who threw the pitch, Rich Donnelly, autograph the seat before auctioning it off to the highest bidder.
As we can see from the photo, whoever wound up with the seat decided to cut another deal—literally—as you can now own a piece of Home Run Derby history for roughly $10 on eBay.
1991: Cecil Fielder Orders Drinks
The view from where Fielder's shots landed, courtesy of mopupduty.com.
While the 1991 derby may be best remembered for Cal Ripken going deep a dozen times, it was "Big Daddy," Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder, who hit the most memorable bombs of the day.
He only went deep four times, but two of those landed in the Sightlines Bar and Restaurant, located in the third deck of the deepest part of center field at Skydome, known today as the Rogers Centre.
Said A's slugger Dave Henderson after the Derby was over: "Ever heard that saying, 'There's a fly in my soup?' Well, there was a fly ball in that guy's soup."
1986: Darryl Strawberry Asked You to Be Quiet
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The 1986 Home Run Derby that was held in Houston's Astrodome was the home of seconds.
It was the second derby in baseball history, and Mets right fielder Darryl Strawberry became only the second player to hit a fair ball off of one of the speakers that hung from the ceiling in right-center field—140 feet off of the ground and more than 350 feet away from home plate.
Some in attendance claim to this day that the ball was still traveling upwards when it hit the speaker—who knows how far the ball would have actually traveled had the speaker not been in the way?
2004: Lance Berkman Terrorizes Pedestrians
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Playing on his home field, Minute Maid Park, Astros outfielder Lance Berkman put up a solid first round in the Home Run Derby, clobbering seven home runs all over the outfield stands.
But it was the second round of the derby, when the roof of the park was opened, that Berkman really started to put on a show.
Five of his 10 home runs in the semifinals cleared the roof and landed on the streets of Houston—an unofficial record. The fact that he needed only seven swings to get it done was even more impressive.