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Notable Home Run Derby Winners

While the All-Star Game has been around since 1933, the Home Run Derby - arguably the most popular event during All-Star Weekend - has only been around since 1985. Since its inception, the Home Run Derby has hosted some of the most prolific hitters in the history of the game. With this history, the Home Run Derby has delivered bragging rights to players with some of the best swings in baseball.

Dave Parker

Dave Parker

The Home Run Derby began as an untelevised, invitation-only event during the 1985 All-Star break. With five players from each league, the inaugural Derby starred luminaries such as Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken Jr. from the American League (AL) and Jack Clark, Ryne Sandberg, and Dave Parker from the National League (NL). Though the AL out-slugged the NL 17-16, Dave Parker walked away the winner of the Derby with six total home runs.

Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal Ripken Jr.

Considering the great hitters who have played in the Home Run Derby, a shockingly low number of players have hit a home run during the All Star Game itself. Cal Ripken Jr. performed the feat first in 1991. His overall performance that game, led to his becoming Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game. Frank Thomas was next to hit a home run in 1995's game, followed by Garrett Anderson in 2003, who also won MVP.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr.

In nearly 30 years of the game, only one player has won the Home Run Derby more than once. Not only has this player won more than once - he won it three times. Ken Griffey Jr., one of the best home run hitters in the game, won the Home Run Derby in 1994, 1998, and 1999. His epic performance in the Derby has made him one of the most decorated home run kings in the history of the game.

Bobby Abreu

Bobby Abreu

The Home Run Derby changed rules in 1996, instituting rounds extending the length of the Derby in place of its previous multiple-round system - a change that added to the totals. Before that, the highest total was Albert Belle in 1995 with 16. Since this change, there have been two outstanding performances that shattered previous records. In 2005 the Derby was played not by American and National league representatives but instead representatives of countries. Bobby Abreu, representing Venezuela, hit an incredible 41 total home runs (18 in the first round alone). Josh Hamilton, while short of the 41 total Abreu hit, did shatter the round-based number by hitting 28 in the first round of the 2008 Derby. He would go on to actually lose to Justin Morneau in that series.

Brandon Inge

Brandon Inge

While the Home Run Derby has been home to many of the best hitters ever, it has also seen its share of oddball participants. Brandon Inge is perhaps the best example of a player who was not a great power hitter, but managed to find his way into the Derby anyway. With a total of 152 home runs over his 13-year (and counting) career, his zero home run performance in 2009 was due mostly to an at-the-time torrid pace. That year he would go to on match his career total of 27 home runs.

The Home Run Derby is one of the most popular and fun aspects of a mid-season weekend spent celebrating the game of baseball. With the addition of golden balls, more outs, rounds, and team captains, the Home Run Derby has only gained in popularity, and the players themselves have gone from seeing it as an optional, fun moment to an honor and privilege. The All-Star game itself has only benefited from the Derby, and the players have shown that sometimes showing off the individual aspect of one of the world's great team sports can be just as entertaining as the game itself.

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