Rangers on Blalock: 56K | 350K
HOUSTON -- Hank Blalock competed in his first Century 21 Home Run Derby on Monday night with an advantage enjoyed by no other contestant. He had four Rangers teammates, plus trainer Ray Ramirez, at field level to cheer him on.
Before the contest, Blalock couldn't be certain how much of any advantage it would provide, given the inclination of ballplayers to give their teammates grief when possible.
"Mikey [Michael Young] is probably going to rag me every ball I don't hit out, which will probably be ten of them, but we'll see," said Blalock. He later determined his fears to be unfounded with crowd noise drowning out any potential catcalling while he occupied the batter's box.
Francisco Cordero, who sat with his teammates along the third base line as Blalock competed, had promised his unequivocal support, however.
"I'm just going to pull for him. He's my teammate and I'm going to pull for Hank."
Blalock did not escape the first round of the competition, knocking three long balls in thirteen attempts after following Barry Bonds. Blalock mentioned that he, Miguel Tejada and David Ortiz had joked together about their combined home run totals not reaching 500 as they watched each member of the 500 Home Run Club, including Bonds, introduced before the contest.
As Blalock walked off, Young, Cordero, Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Kenny Rogers all offered high-fives. The Rangers third baseman noted the support he received.
"They gave me some props. They said, 'You did good, at least you hit a couple out, nice going.' "
He joined former teammates Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez as Rangers who have participated in the Century 21 Home Run Derby. Only Gonzalez won the event, defeating Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993 in Baltimore. Would Blalock consider becoming the second Texas player to compete in two such events (Alex Rodriguez exited in the first round in both 2001 and 2002)?
"That would be great," he said. "I'd love be able to do them in the future, but obviously you have to have good results by the All-Star break. You have to be voted to the game first, and then hitting home runs, there are a lot of things involved. But it was a great experience."
If he continues to post 23 home runs by the All-Star break, as he has done this season, Blalock may get plenty of opportunities to acclimate himself to Derby Day.
Rush Olson is creative director, media, for the Texas Rangers. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.