Hosmer hosts Pitch, Hit and Run contest

Royals 1B recounts memories of runner-up finish in 1998

Hosmer hosts Pitch, Hit and Run contest

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will never forget his experience in the Scott's MLB Pitch, Hit and Run contest.

At 8 years old, Hosmer finished as the national runner-up in the event that was decided at Coors Field in Denver prior to the 1998 All-Star Game.

Hosmer proudly brought the gold runner-up plaque -- shaped like home plate -- to his home in Cooper City, Fla.

"When you're 8 years old," Hosmer said, "something like that is pretty special for a lifetime. It was really cool."

Hosmer spent part of Tuesday organizing an informal Pitch, Hit and Run contest on a Royals' Spring Training practice field with some local boys. And Hosmer said he was proud to support the event through its title sponsor, Scotts.

"I'm one of the few [Major Leaguers] who have participated in the Pitch, Hit and Run," Hosmer said, "and it's great that Scott's has partnered with MLB to sponsor Pitch, Hit and Run and help kids get outside and be active."

As Hosmer has gotten older, other baseball memories have supplanted his runner-up finish. But then those memories (it was called Diamond Skills back then) came roaring back to him when he joined a summer league team named the Midland Reds in Cincinnati.

"I was 17 at the time," Hosmer said, "and I get there and this other kid comes up to me and says, 'You probably don't remember me.' And then he hauls out this catalogue of the results from 1998 and he was the guy who beat me in the Pitch, Hit and Run. His name was Ryan Sharpley.

"But he was a relief pitcher, man. I was thinking, 'You got to be kidding me. Beaten by a relief pitcher? No way.'"

Hosmer and Sharpley, who went on to pitch at Notre Dame, shared a few laughs at that summer league camp. But Hosmer said he never has forgotten about Pitch, Hit and Run and the opportunity to perform at Coors Field at such a young age.

"That was the year, 1998, when [Ken] Griffey Jr. -- he was my favorite player -- announced he wasn't going to do the Home Run Derby, but then he announced right on the field that he would," Hosmer said. "That surprised everyone. But it was unbelievable for me, to be down there with him on the field."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.