Griffey Home Run Derby Memories
ONLY ONE SLUGGER HAS WON BASEBALL’S HR DERBY MORE THAN ONCE
His name: Ken Griffey, Jr.
The Home Run Derby was added as a special event by Major League Baseball on the day before the All-Star Game in 1985 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. In the 26 HR contests since then (it was rained out in Cincinnati in 1988), only one hitter has won the Derby more than once.
The Corner of Edgar & Dave brings that up for a local reason, of course. And that’s because that one hitter was Ken Griffey Jr., all while wearing a Mariners uniform. Ken won, not one or two, but THREE of these longball events. Even though he insisted throughout his career that “I’m not a home run hitter”, we all know that with his swing, he couldn’t help but be one.
While most fans remember Ken hitting the warehouse in right field at Baltimore’s Camden Yards during the 1993 Home Run Derby (the first ever to do so in batting practice or a game), Griffey was the runner up to Juan Gonzalez after a “playoff” that year.
One year later, he won his first HR Derby at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, winning a great battle with White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
Then he won back-to-back HR Derbies, besting runner-up Jim Thome of the Indians at Coors Field in Denver in 1998, and topping Jeromy Burnitz of the Brewers at Fenway Park in 1999.
Griffey finished second to Sammy Sosa of the Cubs at Turner Field in Atlanta in 2000, and that was the last time Ken participated in MLB’s Home Run Derby.
Ken’s career home run total of 630 (1989-2010) ranks sixth on the all-time list, trailing just Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriquez. Some pretty amazing company.
[This year’s State Farm HR Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is scheduled for Monday, July 9. It will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 5:00 pm Pacific time.]
Here is some more information on the annual HR Derby: