The Mascot Home Run Derby at All-Star FanFest is not to be taken too seriously. But when 9-year-old Devin Hoffman and his family saw he was paired with Minnesota's T.C., they liked their chances.
"We were talking about how big he was," said Mike Hoffman of Pittsburgh. "He took a couple of swings and we were like, 'Wow.'"
He made the competition a laugher. Crushing soft-colored ball after ball far beyond the right-field wall some 140-feet away from his tee, T.C. made short work of two-time winner Junction Jack, Orioles Bird, Paws, Lou, Fred, Wally and Parrot with 16 homers.
And in a prelude to Monday's Home Run Derby, where the person paired with the winner will receive a house, Devin was sent home on Saturday with a "Dream Clubhouse" from CENTURY 21.
"I think he did really good," Devin said after hugging T.C. "I like bears. They're strong."
Before the fifth annual derby, the mascots paraded into the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and up to "The Diamond," where three packed bleachers and a crowd standing a couple deep behind the fences awaited them. They were the stars on this day. To the eight kids in the challenge, who all walked away with four tickets to the real thing on Monday night, and to the hundreds more surrounding the field.
Pirate Parrot had the crowd behind him all morning and cleverly played to them with Globe Trotter-like antics. He was the paramedic, he sidetracked hitters and he switched Wally's bat with one filled with small corks that spilled across the field.
"You were set up, Wally," the host said, then asking the crowd if the Parrot should be ejected.
The kids were outraged. Parrot was allowed to stay.
"It's just fun to see the smiles on everyone's faces," said Ken Toumey, CENTURY 21's vice president of marketing. "Look at this. The first year, nobody was in the stands at all. It's gotten bigger and bigger each year."
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.