Bryce Harper in 2013 Home Run Derby; Harmon Killebrew vs. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in the 1960 TV version
Tonight is annual Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities at
Citi Field New Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.,. Bryce Harper will be the first Washington Nationals representative in the Derby and his father, Ron, is pitching to him (The Wash. Times).
4:1 odds the high water mark of the Nats season is tonight.
— Chris Needham (@needham_chris) July 15, 2013
Err, let’s hope not. I’ll have more to contribute to the Nats’ 1st half later in the week.
Before becoming part of the All-Star experience, “Home Run Derby” was a 1960 television show hosted by Mark Scott. Sluggers from both leagues played against each other, though not necessarily interleague. The venue was Los Angeles Wrigley Field, long-time Pacific Coast League home of the Los Angeles Angels and for 1961, the expansion A.L. Angels’ home. From the Wikipedia entry:
The rules were similar to modern home run derbies, with two notable exceptions. If a batter did not swing at a pitch that was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out. Also, the contests were conducted in a more similar fashion to a baseball game than the modern home run derbies, where a player has a set number of outs before his turn is over.
Batters were given three outs per inning, and the player with the most home runs after nine innings won. The defending champion had the advantage of batting last; his opponent batted first. Any ball not hit for a home run was an out. The player did not have to swing at every pitch, but if he did not swing at it, and the pitch was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out, as did a swing and a miss, but these rarely happened as the pitcher was supposed to be giving the batters good balls to hit. If the players were tied after nine innings, the Derby would go into extra innings as per regular baseball.
Harmon Killebrew was featured on the show twice. The first was against Mickey Mantle, a returning champion.
Killebrew unseated Mantle and won the next week, beating out Rocky Colavito. Ken Boyer ended Killebrew’s first run.
Later in the series, Killer returned and lost to Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants.
Jim Lemon, another Senators outfielder, appeared on the show twice but lost to Hank Aaron and Mays, respectively.
Back to the present, I got to see Harper take batting practice last year. He tends to hit line drives about 200 MPH more than he hits towering fly balls. I hope he approaches it that way. If he wins great, but I’m not too concerned. Just don’t mess up the swing and don’t get hurt, pretty much my hopes for any Nats All-Star.