Passing on Derby is tough for Hamilton

Passing on Derby is tough for Hamilton

ST. LOUIS -- Josh Hamilton walks down the street and people yell out, "There goes the Home Run King!"

They are referring to his memorable performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby, but Hamilton has to point out one thing to them.

"Guys, you know I didn't win, don't you?" Hamilton said.

It's understandable that part slips peoples' minds. Hamilton's performance is still one of the most incredible displays of power ever seen at the annual event. A sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium was electrified when he set a record with 28 home runs in the first round alone.

"From what I've seen, Bobby Abreu's in Detroit [2005] was the most impressive I've seen, but Josh's was off the chart," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "How many he hit, how far he hit them, the electricity of the crowd, Josh's first time in at the All-Star Game, the loud crowd in New York. You can't beat that environment."

Hamilton will not be giving an encore performance. He was still voted into the American League's starting lineup by the fans for the 80th All-Star Game on Tuesday, but he is passing on the Home Run Derby. He has been on the disabled list twice this year, once for a bruised ribcage and again for a torn muscle in his abdomen that required surgery and forced him to miss all of June. He has been active for just one week and doesn't want to risk further damage.

"The guys in there haven't been hurt all year and they could get hurt," Hamilton said. "To me ... being on the disabled list twice, getting up there and taking that many hacks would not be a good thing."

He admitted it is painful to have to sit out this time around.

"It really is," Hamilton said. "I really wish I could be there and participate but it's probably not the best thing for the Rangers for me to get up there and hurt myself."

Hamilton, making his first appearance at an All-Star Game, stole the show at Yankee Stadium when he blasted 28 out of the ballpark, four more than Abreu hit in 2005. Three were measured at beyond 500 feet. The longest was 518 feet. He walked into the final round but with scores set back to zero, an exhausted Hamilton lost, 5-3, to Justin Morneau.

"I didn't have the mind-set of winning the trophy," Hamilton said. "I had the mind-set of entertaining people and giving people something they would never forget."

He did just that. People are still asking him about it one year later. Instead of swinging for the fences though, he is predicting that teammate Nelson Cruz will win this year.

"I have to go with my teammate," Hamilton said. "Even if he wasn't my teammate, I know how much raw power he has. A lot of people don't know that, but I do."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.