More than two decades after Dave Parker won the inaugural event with six homers in front of a curious crowd in Minnesota, the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby is about to take another big leap into the future thanks to the Internet.
For the first time, MLB.com, in collaboration with ESPN, will offer fans a free, live video webcast of the Home Run Derby starting at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. All you need is a computer and a high-speed Internet connection to watch eight Major League power hitters battle it out in the ultimate slugfest.
"We are pleased to join with ESPN to provide offline/online integration of this exciting event," said Dinn Mann, executive vice president, content for MLB Advanced Media.
The Home Run Derby pits eight Major League All-Stars against each other in three head-to-head elimination rounds in which each batter receives 10 outs to hit as many homers as possible. Any swing of the bat that does not result in a homer is considered an out.
Each time a player is down to his final out, a special, two-toned golden baseball will be used. For the second consecutive year, all home runs hit with those balls in use will go toward a grand total for charity.
Monday's Home Run Derby field will include Lance Berkman of the Astros, Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins, Jermaine Dye of the White Sox, Troy Glaus of the Blue Jays, Ryan Howard of the Phillies, 2005 co-runner-up David Ortiz of the Red Sox, 2004 winner Miguel Tejada of the Orioles and David Wright of the Mets.
Just look at how far slugfests have come since those 1959 black-and-white TV episodes of Home Run Derby that informally brought bashers like Mickey Mantle, Rocky Colavito, Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew together at old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles for a film-delayed presentation.
Now you can simply watch the best sluggers bash it out online, at both MLB.com and ESPN.com. And, of course, you still can watch the live telecast on ESPN, as well as ESPN Deportes. To the many fans around the world accustomed to life with MLB.TV and live action on a computer, this is the natural progression. And it's free.
Will someone send a baseball completely out of PNC Park and into the Allegheny River? Will there be a new champion in 2006? Find out live this time right here, where you never have to leave your computer throughout the All-Star festivities.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.