Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby has evolved over the years.
It began with one-on-one battles between superstars like Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle. But it later transformed into an all-out baseball bonanza when the modern home run contest originated in 1985.
The derby has seen big names come and go. It’s provided fans with one night of shear greatness for the past 27 years — some more exciting than others.
Whether it be for the dramatic distances, towering trajectories, or barrage of blasts, baseball fans tend to gravitate toward the derby.
This year’s contest includes some worthy sluggers:
AL – Robinson Cano (Yankees), Chris Davis (Orioles), Prince Fielder (Tigers), Yoenis Cespedes (Athletics)
NL – David Wright (Mets), Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Michael Cuddyer (Rockies), Bryce Harper (Nationals)
Details of the derby have changed over the years. There’s been the addition of golden balls to generate money for charities. Some fans were assigned to a specific derby contestant, and if that player won, his assigned fan would win a house.
Gimmicks are not new to the event.
But the point of the contest is to watch some of the game’s best hitters slug it out and give every last drop of energy he has.
What happened to the days when Ken Griffey Jr, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire went all out one after another? Those were the golden days of the derby.
Maybe tonight’s contest will resemble the contest as it once was: all about the long ball.
Here are some Home Run Derby Facts that you might not know:
1) In the last 10 years, the home run leader at the all-star break has made it to the derby finals once (Davis currently leads in 2013 with 37 homers).
2) Cal Ripken Jr (1991) and Garrett Anderson (2003) are the only two players to win the derby and the All-Star Game MVP the following night.
3) Griffey Jr is the only player to win the contest three times. He is also the only one to win it in consecutive years (1998-1999).
4) David Ortiz (Red Sox) has hit the most home runs in derby history with 77 dingers.
5) Only three players in the MLB Hall of Fame have won the derby: Ripken Jr, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson.
The Home Run Derby will begin at 8 p.m.