"It was unbelievable," Tejada said about the show put on by Abreu. "That's what happened to me last year. Today, everything is about Abreu. He was No. 1."
Tejada, the Baltimore Orioles shortstop from the Dominican, hit a derby-record total of 27 last July at Minute Maid Park and had that record broken early when Abreu added six more in the second round for a two-round total of 30. The championship-round record of nine was held by Garrett Anderson when the Angels slugger won the derby at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field in 2003. Abreu bested that mark by two.
"I was feeling so good I couldn't believe what I was doing," Abreu said. "I was in a good rhythm and it was something that was hard to believe. It was something
amazing. This is a beautiful night. This is something amazing that came to me. I don't know if I can sleep tonight."
Five of the eight participants earned $294,000 for charity on Monday night by knocking out 14 Golden Home Run Balls for homers after nine outs were recorded in individual rounds. By rule, each player was given 10 outs per round. Any ball not hit out of the park was considered an out.
Carlos Lee, the Panamanian from the Milwaukee Brewers, became the first batter to hit out three Golden Balls in the first round, earning the first $63,000 for charity. Each hitter had a chance to add $21,000 to the kitty with each of those shots.
Rodriguez had four on the night for a cool $84,000, Abreu had three, and David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox star from the Dominican Republic, also hit three. Andruw Jones, a member of the Atlanta Braves and representative of the
Netherlands, hit one more.
"They told me I hit some very long balls today, but I wasn't looking," said Rodriguez, who is the backup catcher on the American League All-Star team behind Boston's Jason Varitek. "I think Puerto Rico feels very happy. It's kind of
nice. I think I'm probably going to be all over the news."
This year, the event, with its "we are the world" flavor, featured eight sluggers from eight different nations, paying homage to next year's World Baseball Classic -- the first international tournament that will include Major League players from the 25-man rosters of each Major League team.
Abreu expects to play for Venezuela next year in the 16-nation tournament. He was the leadoff hitter on Monday night and jolted so many long balls, most of
them to right field, that some of his countrymen watching on the field -- Johan Santana, Cesar Izturis, Melvin Mora and Miguel Cabrera -- danced around him waving the Venezuelan flag, not once, but twice during the record-breaking, first-round performance.
They were out there again in the finals when Abreu passed Anderson for the record in the championship round -- dancing, high-fiving and hugging. It was a prelude of the emotions that will be on display next spring, from March 3-20, when the first World Baseball Classic takes center stage.
"We all have to stick together, no matter what country we're from," Abreu said. "That's the main thing -- that we all have to stick together."
Even when it seemed that Abreu couldn't outdo himself, he did, launching a massive 517-foot shot beyond the Montgomery Inn BBQ joint high above the second-deck porch in right field. That blast was the second longest in Home Run Derby history, eclipsed only by Sammy Sosa's 524-foot poke in 2002 at Milwaukee's Miller Park.
Only Ortiz barely equaled Abreu's feats, knocking out 16 balls in the first round. Nine out of 10 and six in a row at one point, each one carrying longer than the other into the right-field bleachers, his best topping off at 483 feet.
During his first round, a number of Dominicans came out to boost Ortiz, waving the Dominican flag.
Ortiz and Lee ascended to the second round, where they were defeated by Abreu and Rodriguez.
"It was a lot of fun, but I tell you what, it wasn't easy," Lee said. "You get tired out there. You get tired and that bat starts to get heavier and heavier. At the end of the [second] round, I thought that bat was 40 pounds."
Jason Bay, the Canadian from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Mark Teixeira, a U.S. native who plays for the Texas Rangers, had the most disappointing rounds of the
evening. Teixeira hit two homers in the first round and Bay was shut out.
But Abreu was obviously the show.
"Exciting, yeah, I think the fans liked it," Abreu said. "They come here to see the show. It's not all me. It's all about the Home Run Derby."