Who won the 2009 Home Run Derby?
Its trendy to hate the Home Run Derby. Listen to sports talk radio, sports analysts on television, or the guy at the water coolor — the Home Run Derby is a has been, an event that is sandwiched between the excitement of mid season baseball and the duldrums of the All Star game.
For those of us that still enjoy watching the league’s best bat artists swing for the fences, last night’s Home Run Derby was a solid success. Not only were there plenty of long balls to ogle, but Major League Baseball raised a staggering amount of money for the Boys and Girls Club.
The most impressive hits in Monday night’s State Farm sponsored Home Run Derby were two gigantic homeruns by relative unknowns — a 503 foot homerun that the cameras nearly lost in the sky (hit by the eventual Derby winner Prince Fielder), or an early round homerun ball that slammed into the fourth deck in left field, hit by the eventual runner up Nelson Cruz. Never heard of Nelson Cruz or Prince Fielder? You’re not alone. While expectations were high for hometown hereo Albert Pujols, it was up to the little names to bring the Derby trophy home.
$665,000 — that’s how much money the Home Run Derby raised for the Boys and Girls Club in the span of an hour or so. Compare that number to last year’s $340,000 and you’ll understand why the Home Run Derby was a success. Not only were there highlights to enjoy for the rest of the season (really, Fielder’s gigantic moon scraping homerun is worth watching again and again) but MLB finally figured out how to increase the value of the Derby’s charity donation. What did the MLB do to increase the contribution? The league decided to add $5,000 per home run in addition to the standard $17,000 per “gold ball” hit out of the park. That minor change made a huge difference for a great charity.
Why the sudden change in contribution? According to MLB sources, the increase in donation was a direct response to President Barack Obama’s call for community service. The Home Run Derby donation is just part of what baseball is doing, through a program they’re calling “United We Serve”. MLB sees “United We Serve” as a way to encourage other Americans to participate in community service — the idea is that if fans see their favorite players contributing to charity, they’ll be more likely to do so themselves. What is MLB doing besides the Home Run Derby? They hosted an “All-Star Charity Concert”, the proceeds of which went to a program called Stand Up To Cancer, baseball hosted an All-Star Charity 5K walk/run, which also sent its proceeds to Stand Up To Cancer and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and a few other smaller charity events throughout the rest of the season.
After all, this year’s All-Star game and the various All-Star celebrations represent the 80th such contest. Major League Baseball is trying to keep itself in high esteem among fans who may be getting weary of steroid drama and players with multi million dollar contracts.
Prince Fielder won the home run contest with a grand total of 23 home runs — Fielder hit the balls an average of 439 feet. Fielder’s home runs accounted for a total of $139,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
The Boys and Girls Club and Major League Baseball are constantly amping up the stakes during charity events, and last night’s Home Run Derby was no exception. The Boys and Girls Club attached one of their clients to each of the Home Run Derby participants, and whoever won the derby automatically assigned a portion of their winnings directly to that client’s club. Fielder’s kid, 14 year old Kylie Kochel from Bethalto, Illinois, will bring $50,000 back to her club that will be used for new computers, school supplies for students, and building renovations.