A series of filmed home run contests between two sluggers of the late 1950s/early 1960s, one National Leaguer, one American Leaguer. The batters had to swing at every pitch in the strike ... See full summary »
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A series of filmed home run contests between two sluggers of the late 1950s/early 1960s, one National Leaguer, one American Leaguer. The batters had to swing at every pitch in the strike zone. Any called strike or batted ball that did not go for a home run was an out. (Three outs per inning.) The batter with the most runs at the end of nine innings won $2000. The loser got $1000. As an added incentive, any batter who hit three home runs in a row got a $500 bonus. Each consecutive home run after the first three in a row was worth an additional $500. While one hitter was at bat, the other sat in the press box with host Mark Scott and talked about both his and the other hitter's career. Filmed at Wrigley Field--home of the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels--where the power alleys were a generous 345 feet from home plate. Written by
Steven W. Siferd <email@example.com>
The winner's award of $2,000 doesn't sound like much now but if one adjusts for inflation that amount would be equivalent to almost $16,000 in 2013 dollars. Hank Aaron, due to his success over several contests, earned the equivalent of a bit over $100,000, which isn't too bad for a day's work. See more »
Probably would considered sedate by today's standards.....
If you watch ESPN classic, you may have seen this blast from the past, "Home Run Derby". I watched a couple of episodes and immediately became a fan. For someone like me who was too young to see Mantle and Ernie Banks in their primes and only a little of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron at the end of their careers, it was a real treat to see them in their heyday blasting pitches out of the park in a home run hitting contest. To keep the action moving along, anything other than a home run (including a called strike) was considered an out. The batter had three "outs" per inning and it was a 9-inning affair. The "home" batter was the returning champion from the previous week.
This contest had a home plate umpire (in mask and full uniform) who would call any pitch not swung at by the batter as a ball or strike. They even had umpires out along the foul lines. The winner of the contest received $2000 and the chance to return the following week and defend their title. The loser got $1000 and if either batter slugged three straight homers without an "out", they got an extra $500.
Mark Scott was emcee of the show; he introduced us each week to the contestants and would make small talk with them while the other competitor was at bat. Sometimes, the conversations would be a bit forced or trite but he had a lot of time to fill up in 9 innings. Overall, Scott did a good job keeping things going- especially when the baseballs started flying over the fence.
I agree with bmasters1 that the sportsmanship shown by the contestants was refreshing to watch. No posing or trash talking- they shook hands and showed respect for each other and were complimentary of their opponents. I wondered why this show was on only one season until I found out that Mark Scott sadly passed away at the young age of 45 and rather than replace him, the producers decided to cancel the show.
"Home Run Derby" is a little-known gem from the past that's worth a watch by all fans who like to see the long ball. 8 stars out of 10.
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