PHOENIX – Robinson Cano outslugged Adrian Gonzalez to win the All-Star Home Run Derby that turned into a Yankees-Red Sox showdown, even though his Boston rival made the biggest splash.
Batting last and being pitched to by his father, Cano defeated Gonzalez 12-11 in the finals Monday night at Chase Field after they each hit 20 home runs through two rounds.
Again highlighting the dangers of trying to catch a ball at a big league ballpark, a fan standing on a table above the pool deck, Keith Carmickle of suburban Kingman, Ariz., fell over trying to catch a Prince Fielder homer. The fan was grabbed by his brother before going all the way over, where he could have fallen about 20 feet, and was dangling by his feet when he was pulled back up.
“I stepped up on the table, I missed the ball by 2 or 3 feet and went over,” he said. “We caught three balls and I told the guys I was going to go for the cycle. Dude, they were really holding onto me.”
Last week, a 39-year-old fan, Shannon Stone, died while trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands at a Rangers game in Arlington, Texas.
Carmickle’s brother grabbed his arms and Aaron Nelson of Chandler, Ariz., held his legs.
“He wasn’t going down, I was holding on,” Nelson said.
Carmickle said he wasn’t worried while he was dangling.
“I bench-press 500 pounds and I wasn’t going down,” he said.
Gonzalez hit a ball that wound up in the swimming pool in right field — along with Mike Moon, a 26-year-old fan who caught the ball before falling into the water, where he was surrounded by bikini-clad women.
“I saw the ball, I didn’t want to spill my beer and I didn’t spill my beer,” he said. “I don’t really remember what happened. I think I leaned forward, caught the ball, then fell like that (leaning backward). It was pretty cool.”
With commercial breaks and other interruptions, the derby has become a three-hour affair that’s so slow a regular-season game seems like an Olympic downhill ski race. Before a crowd of 44,820 on the night before the All-Star game, Major League Baseball said Cano set a final-round record. His father, Jose, appeared in six games for the Houston Astros in 1989.
Matt Thomas of Peoria, Ariz., caught Matt Holliday’s second gold ball, hit deep into the left-field lower deck. The ball, with one panel infused with 24-carat gold leather, has a retail value of $149.99. Players were thrown gold balls when they had one out left.
“It just came right at me, and I reached up and grabbed, I played a little trick like I didn’t have it,” he said, making a tucking motion with his glove, “then went, oh, here it is. It’s pretty cool.”
Gonzalez and Cano were the most impressive hitters throughout, and they eliminated defending champion David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Milwaukee’s Fielder (nine apiece) in the second round. St. Louis’ Holliday (five), Toronto’s Jose Bautista (four), Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks (three) and the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (two) didn’t get past the opening round.
Weeks was booed by fans, upset he was picked for the derby over Arizona’s Justin Upton. Chants for Upton resumed when he made nine straight outs. He then hit two gold balls into the seats in left, including one into the second deck. Fielder, who chose his derby teammates, was greeted with the loudest boos. He wound up in a tiebreaker to advance from the first round and went 5 for 5, including a 455-foot drive off the ballpark’s back wall. He had the longest drive of the night at 474 feet and also hit a ball onto the pool deck area.
Fielder hit a drive over the right-field pool, off a “Diamond Club” sign, that bounded off a fan’s head and sent a beer flying.
When Ortiz was down to his last out, stadium announcer Daron Sutton – son of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton – urged him on by shouting, “Just picture Kevin Gregg on the mound,” referring to last week’s fight between the two. Ortiz, the defending champion, also advanced with the tiebreaker, eliminating Holliday.
For each homer with a gold ball, Major League Baseball and State Farm Insurance combined to donate $18,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. State Farm contributed $603,000 to charities as a result of the derby.
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