© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
SAN FRANCISCO -- There were a lot of Barry Bonds jerseys at the Home Run Derby on Monday night, but the San Francisco fans seemed pretty understanding that their favorite slugger wasn't in the Derby lineup.
"There are probably a lot of reasons he didn't do it," Bonds fan Nick Ruiz said. "He's four home runs shy of breaking the record, and he probably doesn't want to alter that in any way."
Ruiz came from Fresno, Calif., for the Derby and was camped out behind left field with his glove. The left-field bleachers and walkways were mobbed with gloved fans all waiting for right-handed batters.
When the first right-hander, Matt Holliday, stepped up to the plate, the left-field crowd stirred in anticipation and readied their gloves. Holliday did not disappoint.
Ruiz got a bead on one of Holliday's balls and looked like he might snag it, but was treated to a $30 beer shower instead. He wasn't the only one. Hundreds of dollars of beer were probably spilled at AT&T Park on Monday, but no one seemed to mind spilling an expensive brewski for a chance at a home-run ball.
The Home Run Derby has been called a lot of things -- All-Star Game warmups or glorified batting practice -- but as the greatest hitters in the game launched ball after ball into the stands, it was hard to understand how anyone couldn't appreciate the Derby. It was a show of sheer force, and the 43,615 fans in attendance never got tired of cheering for the home runs.
"It's just about how far they can hit the ball. Everyone's excited to see home runs and how far they can go," Ruiz said.
As with everywhere in the nation, there were quite a few Red Sox fans in the stands. George Lynch was one of them. He had come from Farmington, Mich., to represent Red Sox Nation.
"I was hoping David Ortiz would be here," Lynch said. "But I bet we're going to see a lot of balls come over here."
Lynch was sitting behind left field in a short-sleeved shirt, and the man from Michigan was a little surprised by the San Francisco cold.
The park might be one of the coldest, but it's also one of the most majestic home-run parks in the nation. When a ball leaves AT&T it leaves with something extra, and the beauty of it all wasn't lost on the fans.
"It's just the park is so small it seems like they're hitting it out of the ballpark every time, so when they actually hit it out, it just seems that much further," Ruiz said. "I don't know how to describe it, but it's more special than seeing one just go over the fence."