What’s your favorite part of the MLB-All-Star break? Is it the game, where players try to get through nine innings without getting hurt? Or is it the home run derby, where the strongest hitters come to blow the stitches off some balls? If you’re a fan of baseballs getting crushed beyond recognition, then you’ll want to know the greatest moments in derby history. You won’t believe who holds the record for most home runs ever!
Cal Ripken Doubles Up The Competition
Cal Ripken Jr. wasn’t known as a power hitter during his Hall of Fame career, but that didn’t stop him from winning the 1991 Home Run Derby. MLB’s “Iron Man” hit 12 home runs, more than doubling runner-up Paul O’Neill, who only managed five. The competition wasn’t nationally telecast that year, but Ripken made national headlines.
Ripken Jr. won more than the just the derby in 1991. During the season he blasted 34 home runs and drove in 114 runs. He didn’t win the World Series (the Twins did) but did win the MVP award. Our next ball buster won it all in front of his hometown crowd!
Todd Frazier Wins It For The Home Town Crowd
In 2015, the Home Run Derby began using a timed format. Instead of each batter getting 10 pitches, they got five minutes. Todd Frazier, then playing for the Cincinnati Reds, took advantage and hit 35 home runs to the delight of the hometown crowd.
The win was big for Frazier. Playing for the Reds as a homegrown talent meant all his friends and family were watching. All except his brother Charlie, his choice for his pitcher. The emotional win made Frazier the second to win the trophy while playing for the host city’s team. Next, find out who dethroned Frazier in 2016.
Giancarlo Stanton Was Unstoppable In 2016
Todd Frazier returned to the Home Run Derby in 2016 to defend his title. Giancarlo Stanton made sure that was impossible by destroying 20 home runs in the final round. Frazier, who clawed his way to the final, only hit 13. To the victor go the spoils.
For Stanton, it was business as usual. Two years before he had signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins. Then, one year after earning his homer crown, he won the National League MVP award. Miami traded him to the Yankees in the offseason, unable to afford their financial commitment.
Vlad Guerrero Sets The Record Straight
The 2019 Home Run Derby may have been the best of all-time thanks to Vlad Guerrero Jr. The son of a legendary MLB slugger, he made a name for himself by demolishing the record for home runs hit in one round.
Guerrero Jr. faced off against Joc Pederson in the second round and knocked 40 balls into the stands. Before that the record for a single round was 29. Amazingly, Pederson almost beat him, knocking 39 moon shots of his own!
The Polar Bear Ended Guerrero Jr.’s Million Dollar Dream
The stakes were raised at the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby when the league decided the winner would get $1 million. The final round saw Vlad Gerrero Jr., who was coming off a 40 home run round, face off against Mets rookie sensation Pete “Polar Bear” Alonso.
Guerrero, exhausted from his record-setting performance, set the table by smacking 23 long balls. Alonso had his work cut out for him, but didn’t seem concerned as he stepped up to the plate. With time still on the clock, he hit his 24th home run and flipped his bat in celebration, creating one of the most memorable wins in derby history.
Josh Hamilton Set The Single Round Record In 2008
Josh Hamilton had a lot of ups and downs during his MLB career. His highest high came in 2008 when he hit 28 home runs in the first round of the derby. That’s right; he didn’t hit 28 total home runs, he hit that many in one round! Before that, only one player ever hit for more than 28 combined dingers, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
At one point during his at-bat, the Rangers’ slugger knocked 13 balls in a row over the fence. Three of his moonshots soared over 500 feet. Few power hitters have ever put on a such a ridiculous show in front of 40,000 fans.
Mark McGwire Was The Original Greatest Show On Earth
Nine months after hitting a then-record 70 single-season home runs, legendary slugger Mark McGwire put on a fireworks show at the Home Run Derby. Taking Boston by storm, McGwire hit 13 first round knocks (a record at the time), including a mind-blowing 488 towering rocket.
That nearly 500 foot home run cleared the Green Monster and landed next to the Massachusetts Turnpike. Tim Flannery, his personal pitcher for the event, said, “once he got in his groove, it was like feeding the great white shark.”
Bobby Abreu Knocked Out 41 Balls In 2005
Bobby Abreu never hit more than 31 home runs in a season during his 18-year career. In 2005 he pulled a Cal Ripken Jr. and unexpectedly won the Home Run Derby, raking 41 home runs in the process. Ten of Abreu’s historic home runs came on his first 14 pitches.
His biggest home run went 517 feet and landed in the right-field upper deck at Comerica Park in Detroit. Before his knight was over (when it was clear he was going to win), Melvin Mora, Cesar Izturis, and Miguel Cabrera ran up to him and covered him in a Venezuelan flag. Next, you knew we couldn’t leave out the time Ken Griffey Jr. took on Coors Field and won!
Ken Griffey Jr. Took His Homer Show To Coors Field In 1998
Coors Field in Denver Colorado is one of the biggest ballparks in MLB. It’s also located one mile high, allowing pop flies to slice through the thin air into the stands. Ken Griffery Jr. was on his way to hit 56 home runs in 1998 when he put on a show in Denver. The epic performance, however, almost didn’t happen.
When Griffey was asked to participate, he originally rejected the invitation. His schedule didn’t match up. When the “boo-birds” came out in force, he had a change of heart, saying, “I don’t like to get booed.” He went on to hit 19 home runs and win the trophy.
Frank Thomas Created A Special Memory For One Fan
In 1994, the derby was held Three Rivers Stadium. Frank Thomas took the Home Run Derby to new heights that year, sending a ball 519 feet through the air. His blast landed nine sections over the foul pole. It was the longest home run in the park’s history.
The Pirates marked the seat with a star (missed opportunity for an X), then later had Thomas sign it (even though he didn’t play for them). Before the stadium was demolished, the team removed the seat and auctioned it off, creating a very unique souvenir for one very special fan. Coming up, is it still a home run if the ball leaves the stadium entirely?
Lance Berkman Set The Record For Balls Hit Out Of The Stadium In 2004
The 2004 Home Run Derby was held at Minute Park in Houston. The park has a retractable roof that homegrown slugger Lance Berkman took advantage of that year. With the roof open, Berkman sent five home runs into the streets outside the ballpark. Hopefully, no one was walking by at the time!
When asked if he was worried about taking out a pedestrian, Berkman said, “How would they know who hit it? It could have been me. Could have been someone else. They wouldn’t even know who to sue.” He was, of course, joking and clarified he hoped there was a warning sign outside the stadium.
Cecil Fielder Set A High Bar For Himself In 1991
There’s a joke in that headline somewhere, we promise. In 1991, Cecil Fielder took part in the Home Run Derby in Toronto. Most people remember the already-listed-show Cal Ripken Jr. put on. A few fans, though, remember losing their drink as Fielder launched multiple home runs into one of the park’s bars.
See, he set a high bar for himself. Now we’re on the same page! The Sight Lines Bar that became Fielder’s target that day was located on the third deck in center field. That’s the hardest place in the field to hit a homer. Unless your name is Cecil Fielder, apparently.