Robinson Cano thought about hitting the Miller Lite sign, a 472-foot drive off an advertisement a good 50 feet or more above and well behind the swimming pool at Chase Field.
“That was my favorite one I’m going to have that in my mind for the next two or three weeks. I wonder how far could it be, that in New York?” he said. “I got power.”
In another Yankees-Red Sox showdown, Cano outslugged Adrian Gonzalez 12-11 in the final round of the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night, even through his Boston rival made the biggest splash at Chase Field.
Batting last and being pitched to by his father, former Houston Astros pitcher Jose Cano, the New York second baseman batted second in the final round. Each hit 20 home runs through two rounds.
“As a kid, you dream to be up here with a bunch of guys that you watched back in the day, like Sosa, Griffey, McGwire, Giambi, how much fun they have,” Robinson Cano said.
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, 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. Carmickle was dangling 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 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.
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-karat 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.
Jose Cano was 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances in 1989 — his only major league action.
“When he called me at home, that he wanted me to come to the United States because he’s going to be in the Home Run Derby, I said, ‘I’ll be happy to pitch to you, because that’s what I do at home,'” Jose Cano said.
Weeks was booed by fans, upset he was picked for the derby over Arizona’s Justin Upton. 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.