Home Run Derby
The Home Run Derby is a made-for-TV event, one that can be enjoyed from your couch at home as much or more than almost any seat in the stadium. Nonetheless, when you get the opportunity to take two out-of-town nephews to your home ballpark to witness the festivities in person, you jump at the chance. After all, life is about relationships and shared experiences create more memories than flying solo at home.
My older brother and I took our younger brother's sons (Casey and Troy) to the Home Run Derby on Monday. Forty years ago, Tom's high school baseball team won the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section 4-A (highest division) championship at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium. A lefthander, Tom (far left) was the winning pitcher in the final game. He was also First Team All-CIF with a 10-0 record and an ERA of 1.53. For perspective, Fred Lynn (El Monte High School) was on the second team. In the preliminary game that same evening, George Brett and Scott McGregor of El Segundo HS lost to Lompoc 8-5.
I snapped a photo of David Ortiz (bottom right) slamming one of his 32 home runs. Note the ball leaving the bat. Not bad on a less than high-speed camera without much of a telephoto lens from the field boxes well down the left-field line. Big Papi beat Hanley Ramirez, 11-5, in the final round. In his fourth appearance in the derby, Ortiz jacked the third-most number of homers in the event's history, trailing only Bobby Abreu (41 in 2005) and Josh Hamilton (35, 2008). Unfortunately, nobody "Hit It Here" (bottom left), a sign placed more than 500 feet from home plate, and won $1,000,000.
My favorite photo of the evening was a rather simple one but it captured the imaginations of a 15-year-old boy watching the flight of a long home run. Accompanied by their parents, Troy and Casey returned to Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game the following evening and Heath Bell tossed the latter a ball during batting practice.
Casey, 10, threw out the first ball at a Cubs-Padres spring training game in March. He made the PONY League (Mustang Division) All-Star Team in Phoenix.
Photographs and memories.