The old-timer walked to the plate, a bat in his hand, four home run derbies worth of experience to his credit, and none of them a victory.
But it being the derby's final round Monday night at Angel Stadium, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz could change that last part.
And, after several home runs, many of which sailed into the elevated right-field stands, Ortiz did, winning his first derby by beating Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez, 11-5, in the final.
When it was over, Ortiz, who hit 32 home runs at an average of 417 feet, dedicated the victory to former major league pitcher Jose Lima, a fellow Dominican who died in May at 37.
"I was really hurt watching him go," Ortiz said of Lima, who played for the Dodgers in 2004. "So when I got picked up to be in the All-Star game, I feel like I wanted to do something to make sure he feels more than usual.
"I want do dedicate this trophy and this home run derby tournament to him and his family, because I know that they are going to be hurting for a long time."
Ortiz advanced to the finals by hitting 21 home runs in the first two rounds, which Ramirez, who was participating in his first derby, matched.
But in the final, Ortiz became the second derby player to reach double digits, and won on the derby's 25th anniversary, his highest finish. He had never finished higher than third.
Ramirez, who finished with 26 home runs, said he wasn't tired when it was over, and that Ortiz' experience didn't help him win. Ortiz admitted he was gassed.
Ortiz had an unlikely edge: New York Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, who fed Ortiz a steady diet of down-the-middle fastballs.
"As soon as I find out he was going to be here, I was like 'Tony, can you pitch to me?' " Ortiz said. "He was like, 'Fine, no problem. I'm going to throw to [Yankees outfielder Nick] Swisher, but I'm going to throw for you. We are here for the fans, it's not a Yankees/Boston situation …so let's do it."
Besides Ortiz, only two other participants, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and St. Louis' Matt Holliday, had derby experience. Ramirez, Swisher, Arizona's Chris Young, Milwaukee's Corey Hart and Toronto's Vernon Wells made their derby debuts.
Milwaukee's Prince Fielder, the defending champion; Toronto's Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 24 home runs and Washington's Adam Dunn and Cincinnati's Joey Votto, the National League co-leaders with 22 home runs each, sat out the derby.
Hart had 13 first-round home runs, but he hit none in the second round. Cabrera hit five in the second round and failed to advance.
The longest home run of the derby was a 497-foot drive to left field by Holliday in the first round. In all, 95 home runs were hit, and $573,000 will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America on behalf of State Farm Insurance and Major League Baseball.
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