For years, major sports leagues have tried to make their “All Star” game seem as relevant as MLB’s All Star Game and Home Run Derby. Perhaps its the significance of baseball in our culture that keeps the viewers watching year over year but if there is one thing we can all grasp is that baseball brings us all together and dammit I feel American when I watch baseball’s greats taking the field.
Unlike the dunk contest, MLB players are proud to participate in annual slug fest. Families and children are invited onto the field to catch the balls that don’t quite make it out and even some of the player’s children are able to sit on the field to watch their daddy play in the national past time. Some managers are hesitant to let their players participate , there is no real correlation to the superstition that the derby “screws up the swing” of players.
Home Run Derby Rules
Eight players, who are generally on the All-Star Game rosters, are selected for the Home Run Derby and compete in a traditional playoff system where the players with the most home runs advance to the next round.
Each player gets ten “outs” per round, where an out is defined as any swing that is not a home run in this case. Should a tie exist between players at the end of any round, there will be a five swing swing-off to determine who will advance. Until 2006, the home run count was reset after each round.
However, a rule change was made for the 2006 Home Run Derby which causes the home run count for the four players advancing to the second round to carry over from the first round. But what you do during the 1st and 2nd round means nothing if you make it to the final round as the count is reset to zero.
Little Facts on Home Run Derby History
- Prior to 1991, the Home Run Derby was structured as a two-inning event with each player receiving five outs per inning which allowed for the possibility of ties.
- Only 3 players have ever won the Home Run Derby and gone on to homer in the All Star Game: Garret Anderson (2003), Frank Thomas (1995), Cal Ripkin Jr (1991). Both Ripkin and Anderson went on to earn the MVP title in the All Star Game.
- Since 2005, when a player participating the HR Derby reaches 9 outs, a golden ball is used and if a home run is hit with the golden ball, Century 21 Real Estate company and the MLB donates $21,000 to both the Boys and Girls Club and Easter Seals.
- A 21 year old Mickey Mantle unleashed a mammoth 656 foot shot at Griffith Stadium in Washington that is largely recognized as the longest home run ever hit. It literally led to the coining of the term “tape measure” home run.
- In 1991, Cal Ripkin Jr became the first hitter to hit at least 12 home runs in a round.
- In 1993 Ken Griffey Jr. became the first player to hit a home run off the warehouse across the street from Camden Yards.
- In 2008, Josh Hamilton demolished the previous record of single round home runs by smashing 28 home runs in the first round.
- In 2006, the Home Run Derby was turned into an 8 country battle in honor the World Baseball Classic that occurred earlier in the year.
- Also in 2006 is when Bobby Abreu set a MLB record by smashing 41 home runs during the entire contest. A record that still stands today.
- In 2008 Josh Hamilton hit a record setting 28 home runs in the first round which including 13 in a row at one point. His first round home runs didn’t count however as Justin Morneau beat Hamilton in the final round.