Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


Watch: Classic HR Derby, Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Killebrew, Robinson

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Home Run Derby

Filmed in three weeks in December of 1959, the 26 episode series aired in syndication from January 9 to July 2, 1960.

Wrigley Field (former home of the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels in Los Angeles) was chosen to host the event because the fence distances were symmetrical, favoring neither right-handed nor left-handed hitters.

Mark Scott was the show host. Scott had been an announcer for the 1956 Reds. Scott died of a heart attack on July 13, 1960, about halfway through the syndicated run of the show’s first season. He was only 45 years old at the time. Without its host, the show was not renewed for a second season, and Home Run Derby disappeared.

The winner received a check for $2,000 and was invited back for the next week's episode against a new opponent. The runner-up received a check for $1,000. If a batter hit three home runs in a row, he would receive a $500 bonus check. A fourth home run in a row would be worth another $500 bonus check.

While one player was taking his turn at bat, the other player would sit at the host's booth and have a brief conversation/small talk about the contest itself or the player's performance that season.

Batters were given three outs per inning, and the player with the most home runs after nine innings won. The defending champion had the advantage of batting last; his opponent batted first. Any ball not hit for a home run was an out. The player did not have to swing at every pitch, but if a pitch was in the strike zone that also constituted an out, as did a swing and a miss. If the players were tied after nine innings, the Derby went into extra innings as per regular baseball.

Of the 20 players who had hit 25 or more home runs during the 1959 major league season, all but four (Joe Adcock, Orlando Cepeda, Woodie Held, and Charlie Maxwell) appeared on Home Run Derby. Fifteen of the 16 major league teams were represented. The missing club, the American League champion Chicago White Sox, had no players with more than 22 home runs in 1959. Nine of the 19 competitors would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Contestants included the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthew, Wally Post, Al Kaline.

Mantle hit the most home runs on the show, a total of 44 during his five appearances.

Aaron won the most money during the show's run, $13,500. Snider and Kaline each won the minimum of $1000.

Aaron had the best overall record at 6–1.

Show notes courtesy of SAABR and Wikipedia

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