Web Analytics and Web Statistics by NextSTAT The Boston Sports Nut: Justin Morneau takes HR Derby

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Justin Morneau takes HR Derby

Jul 14. Yankee Stadium, NY - - Josh Hamilton (Rangers) carved his niche in the annals of HR Derby by blasting 28 home runs in the first round. However, after that, he seemingly ran out of Wheaties as he lost in the finals to Justin Morneau (Twins).

Nobody had ever hit 28 home runs in one round of Derby-dom before. Only one man (Bobby Abreu, with his 24 bombs in Round 1 in 2005) had ever come within 10. For that matter, Abreu was the only player in Derby history who had ever hit at least 28 homers on one night, let alone one round.

"It was amazing, all the way from home run No. 1 to home run No. 28," said Hamilton's teammate in Texas, Ian Kinsler. "It seemed like it was never going to stop." That, in fact, was exactly what it seemed like. Baseballs kept disappearing. The bedlam in the seats kept getting louder and louder. The major league baseball players watching it kept shaking their heads, pretty much in awe of what they were seeing. And they weren't the only ones, because this is what Josh Hamilton did -- in just that one round:

Josh Hamilton hit more home runs in the first round of the Derby (28) than he has through the first half of the season (21).He hit a home run on 13 swings in a row. And 16 of 17. And 20 of 22. And 22 of 25.

But mostly, he battered the right-field bleachers with one mortar after another. He hit four home runs that nearly cleared those bleachers -- and one that bonked off the bottom of the distant Bank of America sign, 502 feet from where he was standing, sending 53,716 witnesses into complete apoplexy. "He hit that sign," said Kinsler, "and that ball just disappeared. And it was like it was gone forever. I kept looking at that sign, and I was thinking, `There's not a chance I could probably hit that thing from second base." But incredibly, that wasn't even Hamilton's longest home run of that round. There was also a towering 504-footer that plopped into the last row of the bleachers, even farther out toward center field. And there was a 518-foot Mars mission that landed so high up in the third deck, you felt like it might have thumped off the top of the Empire State Building if he'd smoked it in Manhattan.

Even Hamilton had a special feeling for that shot, because it was the closest he came to fulfilling his pre-Derby prediction that he might be able to hit the first fair ball in history ever to completely leave Yankee Stadium.

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