Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Miguel Tejada, 2006 Upper Deck Player Highlights #PH-15

Tonight, Major League Baseball's All-Star Festivities get underway in earnest out in Anaheim with the 26th annual Home Run Derby. In its current state, this exhibition has become nightmarishly long and pretty grating on the senses, thanks in large part to ESPN's resident windbag Chris Berman. But occasionally a player heats up and puts on a real show - like Texas' Josh Hamilton in 2008 - and makes it all a little more worthwhile. I still remember watching 1993's Derby, back when it was only one round and ESPN still presented it on tape delay. It was a thrill watching Juan Gonzalez and Ken Griffey, Jr. battle it out, especially when Junior became the first (and still only) player to hit the B & O Warehouse at Camden Yards on the fly. So I'll be tuning in tonight for better or worse.
Of course, there are no Orioles in this year's longball contest; Adam Jones and Ty Wigginton are tied for the team lead with a ho-hum 14 homers apiece. But the O's do have a memorable history in past derbies:

-Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray both participated in the inaugural contest back in 1985 in Minnesota's Metrodome. Cal finished last with a single clout, but Eddie tied with three other players for second place with a total of four. Cincinnati's Dave Parker took the crown with six.

-After a five-year absence from the Derby, Ripken redeemed himself in 1991 in Toronto's Skydome. He blew away the competition with 12 moon shots, leaving the Reds' Paul O'Neill in a distant second with five. Cal also took the All-Star Game MVP honors the next night with a 2-for-3 performance with a home run and three RBI. He became the first player to win the Home Run Derby and the Midsummer Classic MVP, and went on to become the first American Leaguer to be MVP on a cellar-dwelling club.

-Out in San Diego the following year, Cal failed to defend his crown. His four home runs left him in a four-way tie for third, far behind Mark McGwire's winning total of 12.

-Despite breaking the Yankees' 1961 team record for home runs in a season, the 1996 Birds sent just one representative to the Derby in Philly. Brady Anderson's 30 HR at the Break were a stunning surprise, but he ran out of gas in this contest after advancing past the first round with five taters. He actually topped himself with six in round two, but was outpaced by McGwire's nine and eventual champion Barry Bonds' ten (17 total). Brady's total of 11 placed him third overall.

-Back for more in 1997, Anderson placed fifth with four homers and failed to advance to the second round in Cleveland. Yankee Tino Martinez went deep 16 times in three rounds to win.

-In the final season of his first stint in orange and black, Rafael Palmeiro finally gained entry to the Derby in 1998 in Denver. He was one of four players to crank out seven longballs in the first round. As Ken Griffey, Jr. led with eight, the last three second-round slots came down to tiebreakers and Raffy advanced. He hit only three more and placed fourth. Griffey won with 19 overall.

-In 1999 at Fenway Park, the O's were represented for a fourth straight year, this time by...B. J. Surhoff? I clearly had forgotten this, but the stats tell me that he had 20 homers at the time, which was only two less than his previous best for an entire season. But Surhoff wasn't a natural power hitter and it showed, as his two four-baggers tied him with three others for fifth. On the plus side, one of the two contestants to finish worse than Beej was Sammy Sosa, who hit a single homer. Griffey made it back-to-back-wins with another 16-spot.

-After a four-year drought, the Birds came back with a vengeance in 2004. Two of the team's offseason acquisitions, Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro, were entered in the Derby in Houston. Both advanced past the first round; Miggi tied hometown hero Lance Berkman for third place with seven jacks, and Raffy led the way with nine. Palmeiro slumped to third in the next round with a five-spot, but Tejada put on a show with a single-round record of 15 to advance to the finals against Berkman (who was no slouch himself with 10 second-rounders). Not only did Miggi emerge victorious by clearing the fence five more times to Berkman's four, he had the highest total to that point with 27 homers. He even hit the longest shot of the day, a 497-footer.

-Pittsburgh wasn't as hospitable to Tejada as Houston had been. In a return trip to the Derby in 2006, the shortstop tied with his old sparring partner Berkman for sixth place with three home runs and did not clear the first round. Ryan Howard's total of 23 won the day.

-Aaand that's all she wrote for now. Next year, when Matt Wieters gets tired of lulling the rest of baseball into a false sense of security, I'm sure he'll drop some jaws in Phoenix with the first ever 50-homer Derby performance.


William said...

I'm trying to decide which of the following leads me to believe this year's HR Derby seems even worse than last year's:

1) I'm getting old;
2) The Steroids Era is over;
3) No Griffey, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, or Thome;
4) All of the above.

But seriously -- I remember when John Jaha was in the HR Derby in '99 and I thought that was a joke. Today, a player of John Jaha's caliber would be a blessing!

William said...

Oh -- and Griffey hitting the Warehouse? Legendary. I was 7 but I still remember that like nobody's business. I had just gotten into collecting baseball cards (hello, 1993 Topps rack packs) and seeing that made me feel like I just watched Moses part the Red Sea.

Kevin said...

William - We're in agreement here. I still watch the HR Derby, but it gets duller every year and Berman and Morgan make it near unwatchable. Will Ferrell tried to redeem it, though...I appreciated him bringing up Bobby Grich.

1993 was my first year collecting, too. Seeing those red and blue cellophane packs still gives me a nostalgic rush.