Congratulations to you, Valentino Pascucci, on stunning the hometown crowd, and winning the Home Run Derby for the International League, the Bisons, and most importantly, the City of Buffalo. We savour these types of moments, though they are few and far between, and rejoice, especially after the New England Patriot and Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski won the Celebrity Home Run Derby,, to the vast dismay and eternal booing of the Coca Cola Field crowd.
Pascucci hit three home runs in the first round, putting him in a three way tie with Dan Johnson and Joey Butler, with the top two advancing, and the third place being eliminated. Thankfully, to my eternal delight and amusement, Butler hit a whopping, and sit down for this one, zero home runs in the five out tiebreaker. Hell, Gronkowski did better than that in his five outs, sending one over the left-centre field wall in his first round up, with the same amount of outs. Johnson took the first pitch he swung at, and sent it over he right field wall and advanced. Pascucci took some time to swing, threw in an out for the fun of it, and he got his advancing homer.
Joining Pascucci and Johnson in the second round were Pacific Coast League players Luis Jimenez and former Bison Mike Hessman, now a prospect for the Houston Astros. Jimenez looked like he was on a highway to Derby hell, with eight straight outs, but a new bat reversed his luck, and he hit five home runs with eight outs in the first round. Hessman took the lead and domination early, hitting nine home runs in the first round.
However, the early fireworks from Jimenez and Hessman would not last, as they were blown away by Pascucci’s and Johnson’s 13 home runs each, bringing their totals to 16 home runs apiece. Johnson gave the fans in hit field presents often and early, with the majority of, if not all, his home being pulled to right, Prince Fielder-esque, but still managing to miss the cash prize box.
Pascucci, being the great Bison that he is, not only hit home runs, but he hit long high balls to left field, hitting multiple prize advertizements, and giving lucky random fans in the 200 level (It was open to all fans, but the majority came from the 200s) prize packs. In addition, he felt sorry for the fans watching outside on the 190, so in true Buffalonian good neighbour fashion, he hit home runs over the left field net onto the 190. No cars were hit during the production of this Home Run D
In the final round, Johnson lead off and cooled off, and hit only five home runs, again almost all to right or right-centre field, setting a modest marker for Pascucci to overcome. However, unlike Prince Fielder, who won the MLB Home Run Derby, it was not meant to be. Pascucci strolled up to home plate, an, in three outs taken, hit the necessary six home runs, with the weakest home run clearing the left field wall by a few feet, and the rest being good, powerful blasts to left, and again, some over the net, to win, and bring the Home Run Derby title to Buffalo, and the fans at the ballpark to their feet in a standing ovation.
The All Star Game is tonight at 19h00/7h00 PM, and there remains, at time of publication, less than 500 seats left, so if you have not already, purchase them before you miss this once in a lifetime chance, which happened around 24 years ago last in Buffalo.