There is something about a ballplayer going yard that stirs a crowd. The top brass at MLB headquarters have been acutely aware of this since the days of Babe Ruth, and have invested a great deal of energy and resources into assuring that fans see as much of the long ball as possible, emphasis on investment.
Perhaps no other MLB event showcases the long ball more than the Home Run Derby, which saw Todd Frazier, otherwise known as “The Toddfather,” the Cincinnati Reds’ Third Baseman, edge out Joc Pederson, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie centerfielder, in this year’s bonus round. To add to the drama, The Toddfather won the derby in Great American Ball Park, his baseball home turf, with his brother throwing him pitches. A happy hometown baseball hero and crowd; when players make history, MLB makes bank: a winning combination, albeit not in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word.
In addition to going yard, there are many other terms for Home Run, some of which include: Homer. Bomb. Jack. Moonshot. Long ball. Round-tripper. Going downtown. Although George Herman “Babe” Ruth led the American League in Home Runs in 1918 and 1919 with 11 and 29, respectively, his 54 taters in 1920 and 59 in 1921 earned him the nicknames of “The Great Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat.” The Babe didn’t invent the Home Run, but he made it a vital statistic, arguably MLB’s most popular offensive category. His game changed the way the game of baseball is played and discussed, on all levels, on and off the field.
Before the Babe, no one went yard with greater fanfare than John Franklin “Home Run” Baker, the Hall-of-Fame third baseman who starred for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics from 1909-1914. He hit 42 blasts in this time period, and was the American League Home Run Champion each year between 1911-1914. He joined the Yankees in 1916, and remained with the team until 1922. He and the Babe were teammates for two seasons, 1921 and 1922, where they won two American League Pennants, and led the American League in attendance.
Like Todd Frazier last night, The Babe and Home Run Baker showed that there’s nothing like going yard in one’s own back yard. The ESPN Broadcaster and former Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees (and Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, and Houston Astros) hero Aaron Boone said that all of the 2015 Home Run Derby participants had “a good showing.” Indeed, Albert Pujols, Josh Donaldson, and Prince Fielder had some moonshots that would make the Babe, Home Run Baker and many children smile, including those of the players, seemed to be having a blast, filming their famous fathers on their phones, bringing them towels, water, and hugs. Enough hugs to make the top brass at Walt Disney Studios weep.
But this night belongs to the Toddfather. Though others will go yard in tonight’s All-Star Game: MLB’s 86th edition of The Midsummer Classic and the rest of the regular season, search for Home Run Baker and The Babe in the upper decks of history, their hands sticky with pine tar as the game’s top performers step up to the dish of Great American Ball Park.
NOTE: all stats for Babe Ruth and Home Run Baker can be found at the following links:
The Toddfather needs our help. He needs you to continuously vote for him to ensure his ticket is punched to go to Arizona and join Tulo at the ASG. http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2011/fv/ballot.jsp?tcid=hpMW-asgballot-FV-2011 is the link. Todd will be up against Dodger Andre Ethier, Diamondback Ian Kennedy, National Michael Morse and Phillie Shane Victorino. It will be tough but if we all pull through for Todd, then he will get what he rightly deserves. Voting is not capped, so just keep voting.