Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To the Moon Alice

The Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau walked away with the Home Run Derby trophy last night, but the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton walked away with the crowd and the television viewing audience.

Though he had clearly tired in the final round, Hamilton put on an unbelievable display in the contest's first round. Not only did he hit 28 dingers (eclipsing then Phillies' Bobby Abreu's 24 in 2004), but most of them were tape measure shots. Hamilton said he'd like to try to be the first one to hit a ball out of a Yankee Stadium (Josh Gibson legends aside), and he came awfully close. One shot hit high atop the back of the right-center field bleachers, stunning everyone watching.

Hamilton also hit the back of the black-painted bleachers in center and hit several moon shots to unsuspecting fans well up in the upper deck in right field. He hit for what seemed like 3 hours as one ball after another easily left the park. At one point commentator Joe Morgan (who was probably muttering this guy's not as good as Johnny Bench) thought he had finally made an out and the ball landed in the upper deck.

Hamilton's story has been well documented by now and you will here more about it again tonight. But he also made the classiest move of this gala by bringing along 71-yr old Clay Counsil, who threw batting practice to Hamilton when he was growing up. Counsil was nervous, but it didn't show as he poured in one strike after another (54 pitches alone in the first round) and Hamilton hit one after another into the seats.

Chris Berman wasn't even overly obnoxious. All in all, it was a great show.

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