On Monday evening, the stars aligned in Coca-Cola Field for the Celebrity Home Run Derby. Prior to the actual Home Run Derby for the MILB All Stars, names such as Lindy Ruff (coach of the Buffalo Sabres) and Fred Jackson (running back for the Buffalo Bills).
Rob Gronkowski, a tight-end for the New England Patriots ended up winning the entire competition, much to the dismay of the Buffalo faithful. There were many boos flying around when he was awarded with a trophy for his efforts mainly because of the rivalry between both the Patriots and Bills, but he did deserve the award. He was hitting bombers the entire evening throughout the ball park and I partially thought that maybe if the whole football thing stopped working out, he could be a pretty good batter for a baseball team. At least it would get him off the Patriots.
The event started off seemingly slow with Nick Bakay (comedian and actor from Buffalo) and Joe DeLamielleure (an NFL Hall of Famer) not hitting any homers over the fence for their respective teams. Russ Brandon (CEO for the Bills) impressed many as he got a few homers on the night. Former Bills GM Bill Polian went up next but managed not to hit any homers either. Lindy Ruff put on a comedy act when right in the middle of batting, he decided to change his bat because it appeared to be the reason why he wasn’t even able to hit the ball. Patrick Kaleta gave him a replacement but Lindy was still not able to put any balls over the fence. He fell short, just like the rest of the times his Sabres teams have attempted to try and get close to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The next three batters up were to impress because of their current athleticism. Patrick Kaleta was able to knock at least one ball over the fence and moved on towards the next round. Fred Jackson hit a homer himself and also made it towards round two. Then came Gronkowski, hitting nine homers, with some of them even hitting the back wall of the park. A crowd of boos yearned over the ball park but honestly, I was pretty impressed by how well he had done. Himself, Kaleta, Jackson, and Brandon were advancing to the second round which took place after the first round of the Home Run Derby between the All Stars.
Kaleta and Jackson could barely keep the effort going in the second round and were both taken out in a matter of just a few minutes. Brandon, with almost receiving five outs with just one home run, hit seven consecutive home runs to bring his count up to eight and was nearly able to tie Gronkowski. Unfortunately, he fell short himself and finished the second round with those eight homers. Gronkowski now was clinched to win the title and proceeded to impress the crowd more by hitting eight more homers on the night. He even attempted to catch one of his own pop flies but proceeded to drop the ball as if he had butter fingers. Now Rob, can’t you do that during the regular season when you play against the Bills this year? Thanks.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Celebrity Home Run Derby and it was fun to see hometown heroes and celebrities from out of town alike to come together and make the evening a special one for the fans. It was indeed an evening where you could say ‘the stars have come home’, just like the tagline states for the All Star Game festivities.