Part III: All-Star Monday… at the Derby
(AKA: Watch Out!)
(AKA: 61 home runs… in one night??)
Buckle up, folks! This one is quite the doozy!
Following the late night at Petco Park Sunday, I was ready to fly solo back down to San Diego for the famed Workout Day and Home Run Derby. Yes, I was very fortunate to attend this incredible event. I managed to arrive at the ballpark just as the gates opened over three hours before the game (gates opened at 2pm for a 5pm event). As soon as the gates opened, there was a flood of people getting down to the left field porch area to take in some batting practice. I still had a pretty decent view from the field level during BP and managed to see incredible feats of power. How far would these balls fly?
First, it was the American League up to bat, and they were led by Mark Trumbo and David Ortiz teeing off towards the foul poles. Luckily, they gave the fans a huge treat by putting some souvenirs into the seats. I saw one kid had already caught an All-Star Game baseball during BP.. a day early! Most of the applause and cheers for that first part of BP went towards David Ortiz who was playing in his final All-Star Game during his final season in the majors. Those cheers were well-deserved and he received nothing but love from the local fans and the Red Sox fans that made the trip to sunny San Diego.
The National League put on the better show simply thanks to Wil Myers (the hometown hero from the Padres) and Giancarlo Stanton, who was hitting bombs even before the actual Derby began! Since Myers was also competing in the Derby, he drew huge amounts of applause from the majority San Diego crowd. However, it would be Stanton who wowed everyone. His batting practice home runs were a sign of things to come in the main event. At one point in the middle of his warm ups, he actually hit one OVER the Western Metal Supply Co building in left field. That blast elicited massive cheers and looks of amazement from all the fans watching, including myself. His other sonic booms came close to going over the batter’s eye in center field, but never made it. Little did we know that he was only warming up.
Before the main event began, I was able to walk around and check out the decorated elevators. Yes, every part of the ballpark was decorated for this special week. Even the Padres’ organ in the right field view section was decorated with banners. Finally, I picked up a local favorite as far as food went. I opted for the big portions at Phil’s BBQ in the lower level area. Seriously, this BBQ meat sandwich tasted as incredible as it looked. The meal also comes with two sides; I opted to get the french fries and macaroni salad that was better than I thought. Once I was done scarfing down the awesome food, I had to make my way up to my seat in the upper view level…. right behind home plate.
My view for this event was the front row of that section despite being labeled as “row 7.” I seriously had the BEST behind-the-plate view, I thought. First up to bat was a new favorite player of mine, Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made great use of that short porch in right field and knocked a few home runs down the right field line. Being a lefty, he was able to get his home runs in a good quantity, but none of his home runs went over 450 feet. However, this was still a tremendous start for him. Enter Mark Trumbo who launched a few home runs as far as the eye could see. In fact, one of those home runs went clear over the Western Metal Supply Co. building…. during the derby! It may have landed on the roof, but in reality, it bounced off the roof and out of Petco Park. Trumbo got off to a cold start, but picked it up with a minute left netting something like six or seven consecutive home runs to take that first round match.
Then the fun really began. The man everyone came to see, Giancarlo Stanton, went up to the plate with his brightly colored kicks…. and he delivered in a massive way. Stanton immediately began pummeling the baseballs into the left field seats…. the BACK of the left field seats. We are talking hitting the scoreboard range here! We are talking OVER the batter’s eye in center field… I’m not making this up! I don’t know what else could be said about this extraordinary display of power in San Diego. The crowd was absolutely nuts during that entire time Stanton was at the plate. His longest homer? 497 feet. Four hundred…. and ninety-seven….. feet. Seriously. He didn’t even get 10 outs during his time at bat. Fans around me ooh’ed and aah’ed with each mighty swing! I could say so much more about Stanton’s first round, but I will say it was one of the best single performances I’ve personally seen. Simply put…. 24 home runs. Wow. Oh, Robinson Cano was there, too. He didn’t come close to advancing after Stanton’s show.
The following round pitted hometown hero, Wil Myers versus Adam Duvall of the Reds. Myers hit a decent amount of home runs…. but he was absolutely no match for Adam Duvall. The final round had Carlos Gonzalez hit a few dingers towards center field…. including to one unlucky fan who got his beer knocked over in spectacular fashion. However, he lost easily to defending champion, Todd Frazier. The rest of that first round was great fun…. but I knew what the crowd was waiting for.
The second round had a damn good matchup between hard-hitting Mark Trumbo and long-balling Giancarlo Stanton. To be honest, the fans wanted this and they certainly got their money’s worth. Trumbo and Stanton put on an epic power display during this round. No, none of those home runs went over the Western Metal building, but both gentlemen left some dents on that century-old landmark building. By my count, about a dozen home runs went toward that rustic pile of bricks just in that semifinal. In the end, Stanton would prevail with 17 home runs to barely make it to the finals. The other semifinal had Todd Frazier begin to find his power and advance to the finals.
While the San Diego fans would have preferred to see Wil Myers make it to the finals, they were certainly thrilled to see Giancarlo Stanton once more. Believe it or not, Stanton would do even better than his previous round! He found his groove and showed no signs of slowing down as he hit almost a dozen home runs over 440 feet. At this point, he had most of the longest-distance home runs of all the competitors. He continued to clobber the ball towards the scoreboard, the back of the left field seats, and leave more dents in the Western Metal building. He finished the round with a whopping 20 home runs. TWENTY…. in the FINALS. Needless to say, Todd Frazier couldn’t come close to that monstrous number and Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby easily. Throughout the night, Stanton amassed a total of 61 home runs! You read that right, 61 home runs in one night! It took Roger Maris an entire season to reach that mark in the 1961 season. Simply put, it was one of the more extraordinary feats of power ever seen at any Home Run Derby. The internet went ballistic during that whole event not believing what they were watching on TV.
Folks, it was even better in person. The crowd really did go nuts when some of those home runs reached the roof or left dents on the building, or went out to the Park at the Park area. Stanton celebrated with his beloved teammate, Jose Fernandez wildly in the National League side and he accepted the trophy with grace and the biggest smile in San Diego that evening. After watching the trophy ceremony, I made my way out and ran into the pilots who did the awesome flyover before the Derby. All of these high fliers were big baseball fans and loved watching the event. Luckily, they arrived at the stadium just in time to see Stanton put on a show. As I type this, I’d like to thank our men and women serving our country in the Armed Forces. San Diego is a great city with a fantastic military presence that is not seen many other places… this is part of the reason why the Padres have their camouflage third jerseys to honor the military.
I know this post may be short compared to some of my other posts… but this was all about the wonderful event that is the All-Star Derby. I highly recommend going to see at least one Home Run Derby in your lifetime if you have a chance… you never know when you could witness something incredible like I did. Once again, thank you all for reading, and I hope to see you at the ballpark!