MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Derby dreams: Who would you like to see?

Asked to choose any player to participate, fans' answers are intriguing

Derby dreams: Who would you like to see?

SAN DIEGO -- The T-Mobile Home Run Derby field features two recent winners in Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano, a guy who looks like he was sculpted specifically for the Derby stage in Giancarlo Stanton, the current Major League home run leader in Mark Trumbo, a couple of power-prone rooks in Corey Seager and Adam Duvall, the great Carlos Gonzalez and "hometown" hero Wil Myers.

Yeah, that'll definitely work, and the real Derby gets in full swing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Monday on ESPN, with a simulcast on MLB.com.

But what if you could put together a "Dream Derby" of guys who never took part in the All-Star event? What if you could pick any player -- living, dead or in-between -- to put on a power-packed presentation?

I posed that question on Twitter, and these were some of my favorite responses:

Yeah, this one's a total layup. This is the event Ruth was born to compete in. Alas, he was born too soon. But there's no question, fans all around the world wish they could see this (I'm talking about the hot dog eating contest, for the record).

This is my personal No. 2 behind Ruth. The tales of Ichiro's batting-practice prowess are not only legendary, but ongoing. Just last week, no less an authority than Barry Bonds said Ichiro could win the Derby.

Of course, homers just aren't Ichiro's thing. He once said, "Chicks who dig home runs aren't the ones who appeal to me. I think there's sexiness in infield hits, because they require technique. I'd rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out."

That might be a decent romance strategy, but it's not much of a Derby strategy.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who thought to pick Gibson, the man who was once called the "black Babe Ruth" (except by those who called Ruth the "white Josh Gibson"). Gibson is believed to have hit nearly 800 home runs in the Negro Leagues and independent ball. He once hit a home run all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C., if you believe the legend (and it's always more fun to believe the legend).

Oh, and then there's Oh, who not only set the world lifetime home run record with 868 in Nippon Professional Baseball, but was immortalized in a Beastie Boys song. Another great choice.

Those old Home Run Derby videos really are manna from the baseball heavens, aren't they? When I was an impressionable 8-year-old, they used to air them on summer afternoons on ESPN -- which, in the age before DVR, meant I was spending considerably more time watching old baseball footage than, you know, actually playing baseball. So that's not good.

But the show was great. Nine future Hall of Famers took part for the chance to make a couple of hundred extra bucks -- including Aaron, Kaline, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider, which is why none of those guys are listed here. Rocky Colavito was also involved, shortly before the Indians traded him and broke my Cleveland-born, Italian-American father's heart.

We'll never see the 3-foot-7 Gaedel, owner of one of the most famous walks in Major League history, on the Derby stage. And anyway, that would be a tough assignment for his BP pitcher. I speak for short guys everywhere when I say I'd at least like to see 5-foot-6 Jose Altuve in the Derby field.

Like Sinatra, he wanted it all or nothin' at all. Kingman hit 442 home runs and struck out 1,816 times in 16 seasons. Yes, of course, he is absolutely perfect for our "Dream Derby." And it would be especially fun to ask Tommy Lasorda afterward for his opinion of the performance.

The second coming of Kingman. And how do we manage to live in a world in which Brandon Inge participated in a Home Run Derby and the Big Donkey didn't? Baseball is weird, man.

Love it. More outside-the-box (or at least, outside-the-Majors) thinking. Hessman broke the record for most career Minor League home runs last August, and then retired with 433. He hit 14 in 109 big league games scattered over five seasons with three teams. It should be noted, however, that Hessman told MLB.com last year, "I can take batting practice and I won't hit a lot of homers, but I've been given a gift to have some power in the games."

Just one home run in 3,754 career plate appearances. But hey, that's one more than you or I.

Proud to say I covered Wily Mo Pena Bobblehead Night at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2005. Pena hit two monstrous shots that night, including a walk-off winner to the upper deck. Why, oh why, couldn't Pena have come of age in the Statcast™ era?

Oh, come on. Don't you remember him pointing to his biceps in the 1995 American League Division Series? Albert was all muscle.

I'd initiate a rule that no fictitious superheroes are allowed in this exercise, but we've already included Pena, so what the heck.

I was disappointed that it took like 90 seconds after I sent the initial tweet before I received this response. I assumed I'd receive it much sooner. But yes, it's such a tease to know Colon is returning to Petco Park -- the scene of one of the most memorable home runs of our lifetime -- and definitely won't be taking his hacks in the Derby and probably won't be picking up a bat in the Midsummer Classic itself.

#THIS Colon's first homer

Oh well. We can just keep playing this on repeat.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.