07/06/2004 8:17 PM ET
Sosa in HR Derby for sixth time
Cubs slugger won the event in 2000 at Turner Field
By JR Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Houston, we have liftoff.
|Sammy Sosa has been in the Home Run Derby five times in six years. (Denis Poroy/AP)
Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa is among those confirmed to participate in the 2004 Century 21 All-Star Home Run Derby, to be held on Monday, July 12 in Houston, one night before the 75th All-Star Game.
Sosa joins Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, Philadelphia slugger Jim Thome and Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro as confirmed participants in the event, the 19th such installment in its current form.
"I'm happy to have the chance to enjoy the moment," Sosa said. "If you have a chance to put on a show for the fans, to pay them back, I want to do it."
Currently in ninth place on the all-time home run list with 553, Sosa will be part of an exhibition that includes multiple members of the 500-home run club, including newest members Griffey and Palmeiro. The Orioles first baseman will become the first player to participate in the Derby despite not being selected to an All-Star roster.
"It's something that's special. One day I'm going to look back and remember that," Sosa said. "I'm going to go up there and enjoy it with family and do the best I can. I like to go. It's a chance to show your appreciation for what the fans do for you."
Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, another member of the 500-home run fraternity, has been invited but hasn't confirmed his intent to participate.
The showing in Houston will be Sosa's fifth in six years at the Home Run Derby, with only last year's absence interrupting his string of appearances. Sosa won the event in 2000 at Turner Field in Atlanta, defeating Griffey, 9-2, in the final round and belting 26 home runs overall.
Sosa took second in 2001 at Safeco Field in Seattle, falling 6-2 to Arizona's Luis Gonzalez in the final round, then held runner-up status again in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee when he stumbled, 7-1, to Giambi in the last round.
Sosa made his first Home Run Derby appearance in 1995 at the Ballpark in Arlington and began his streak of four straight derbies in 1999 at Fenway Park. Only in 1998 did Sosa not participate in the Derby despite being named to an All-Star roster (left shoulder stiffness).
Entering Tuesday, Sosa had 14 home runs on the season, a mark hampered by a month-long stint on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his back. He will make his fifth All-Star start in the Midsummer Classic on July 13.
The Home Run Derby will feature the same rules as in previous years -- four players per league competing to get one of four spots in a semifinals round, then one of two in the finals. The slate cleans after each round, a regulation that worked to 2003 champion Garret Anderson's favor when he beat Albert Pujols, 9-8, in the final round despite being out-homered, 26-22, overall.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.