Home Run Derby 2010: Most Memorable Derby Moments
Major League Baseball's All-Star Week has arrived.
The All-Star Week finds itself stuck in a precarious position. Every year, it's the one true break from all major sports. But this year, even more of a break in the action is where the game finds itself.
The World Cup is over, NBA free agency has passed its peak, and fans are getting even antsier for football season.
But that doesn't mean there haven't been moments worthy of watching.
And the first place where the moments start are the Home Run Derby.
The Derby Begins: 1985 HR Derby
Won by Dave Parker, a member of the Cincinnati Reds at the time, the Home Run Derby started as a close competition between both leagues.
Parker went deep six times to win the individual award.
However, the American League was able to beat the National League, 17 HRs to 16 HRs.
The one difference — Cal Ripken Jr. His single home run added to the 16 his teammates had compiled and gave them the win.
Bobby Abreu Becomes Addicted to Home Runs and Then Quits
In 2005, Bobby Abreu took to the batter's box. In his 10-year career, the most home runs he had hit in one season was 31.
At the Home Run Derby in Detroit, Abreu hit a total of 41 monstrous home runs, 24 in the first round alone.
Nobody came close to competing with him the entire night, and he completely stole the show.
Excited teammates and players held up the Venezuelan flag (this was the first year of it being an "International Derby"), as he continued to display an exceptional ability to hit batting practice home runs.
He had 18 HRs up to that point in the season, and it seemed like the Derby might launch him to even more bombs.
Instead, Abreu may have cursed himself. He finished with only six HRs the rest of the way for a total of 24, matching his first round of the Derby.
The First Televised Derby, 1993
In 1993, ESPN decided to take a chance by putting a same-day delayed Home Run Derby on their network.
Led by Chris Berman with his catch phrases and nicknames, ESPN hoped the event would become a hit.
The network ended up with one of the best Home Run Derby events since it began in 1985.
During the event, Juan Gonzalez and Ken Griffey Jr. fought for the title of home run king. They had to go to extra swings.
Each totaled seven HRs, and in the first head to head battle, Griffey and Gonzalez tied with four HRs a piece.
In the extra playoff, Gonzalez inched out a 1-0 victory over Griffey to be crowned the first televised champion.
Ken Griffey Jr. goes back to back
The only baseball player to ever win three Derbys is also the only one to ever go back-to-back.
In 1998 and 1999, Ken Griffey Jr. was still in his home run prime.
Griffey was hesitant to participate in 1998, but once he got a taste, he was back for more.
He beat out Jeromy Burnitz in the final round 3-2 to hold up the silver bats once again.
He also beat out Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that year, for a little bit of irony.
The First Live Derby: 1998
In 1998, ESPN finally decided to go live with the Home Run Derby.
The event took place at hitter friendly Coors Field, and featured Chris Berman accompanied by Joe Morgan and Mike Piazza.
Ken Griffey Jr. was hesitant to participate due to a Sunday night game the previous day, but luckily for the network he came in and stole the show.
Griffey went up against some other great hitters like Mark McGwire, a young Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, and Rafael Palmeiro.
Griffey hit for 19 home runs and won the second of three Derby awards.
Josh Hamilton Wears Himself Out
To hit 28 home runs in any form of batting practice is not easy. Yet, Josh Hamilton beat out Bobby Abreu's record of 24, and it seemed like he would never stop.
Hamilton found himself in a groove early in the first round, as many looked at him as the feel good story of the All Star Game.
After hitting so many home runs though, Hamilton began to fade. He hit four home runs in the second round, and with four outs stepped out of the batter box to speed up getting to the finals.
In the finals he was only able to add three more bombs, ending with 35 home runs. This opened the door for Justin Morneau, with only 17 HRs total, to win the prize.
Hamilton hit only 11 home runs the rest of the season and will probably never participate in another Home Run Derby.
Derby Winners and All Star MVPs
There have only been two players to ever win the Derby and the All-Star game MVP award.
The first — Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991.
Ripken led the competition with 12 HRs, hitting more than all of the National League participants, who ended with a total of seven HRs.
What's more impressive about his performance is he hit seven HRs to start the competition, and 12 HRs on 22 swings overall.
He followed that up the next night with a three-run homer and the MVP award.
The other guy to do it? Garret Anderson in 2003.
Somehow, Anderson managed to end with 22 HRs — behind Albert Pujols (26 HRs) and Jason Giambi (23 HRs) — but still beat Pujols in the finals.
Anderson showed up the next night looking to prove his win was no fluke. He hit a home run, went 3-4, and helped lead the AL in a 7-6 comeback victory over the NL.
He proudly took the MVP award to join Ripken in the history books.
HR Derby 2002: Sammy Sosa and Jason Giambi must be on something
In 2002, it became apparent that some guys either had super human strength or may be getting some help.
Sammy Sosa and Jason Giambi went back and forth early on throughout and faced off in the finals.
Sosa hit 12 HRs to start off, averaging 477 feet per bomb. As the competition continued, he easily surpassed the 500 foot mark seven times.
As for Giambi, he wasn't too shabby either.
He hit 24 total home runs and won the event, getting revenge from the previous year where he had the highest total but didn't win.
The Home Run Derby tournament format of the early 2000s saw some interesting battles along the way.
Players who didn't always end with the most home runs total in the event were able to sneak through by beating lesser opponents in round two.
Players like Paul Konerko in 2002, Jason Giambi in 2001, and Carl Everett in 2000 all finished second in the semis, but were eliminated before the finals.
In 2003, Garret Anderson won the competition that changed the formatting afterwards.
Anderson won round two 6-4 over Jim Edmonds. The other second round clash saw Albert Pujols with 14 HRs oust Giambi with 11 HRs.
Anderson beat out Pujols 9-8 in the finals, but finish third in total home runs.
1996 Home Run Derby: Bonds vs. McGwire
If baseball knew what they were getting themselves into in 1996, they probably still wouldn't regret a thing.
Barry Bonds vs. Mark McGwire gave spectators a show at Veterans stadium.
Balls hit by both surpassed over 450 feet as they found spots never touched by anyone in baseball before.
Bonds won the battle 17-15, ousting McGwire in the finals. He found himself to his last out down 2-0, then hit three straight to overcome McGwire.
Wrigley Field 1990 HR Derby
It's a shame that in 1990 the Home Run Derby was not yet televised.
It wasn't that the event was all that great. In fact, it may have been the worst in the history of the event.
Ryne Sandberg won with three HRs, and the N.L. totaled four HRs.
They beat the A.L. who with Mark McGwire, Cecil Fielder, Jose Canseco, and Ken Griffey Jr. could only muster one HR.
But luckily for Chicago fans, Bill Murray was allowed free reign over the ceremonies. He heckled players, made jokes, and did what he could do to help turn the event into something great.
Some may say that watching him for three hours might still be more entertaining than the Home Run Derby presented on ESPN these days.