Malinowski: The untold story of the first Home Run Derby

From SABR member Erik Malinowski at on July 10, 2014:

By the summer of 1985, the baseball-loving people of Minnesota had completely fallen for their Twins, even though the franchise rarely gave them a compelling reason. The team hadn’t finished a season with a winning record since 1979 and had eclipsed 100 wins once, in 1965, the year it won its only American League pennant. That led to a seven-game World Series defeat at the hands of Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. And yet, that disappointment had remained the Twins’ brightest moment in the baseball spotlight as they plodded through their 25th season since bolting the Beltway.

If there were any reason for optimism, it was that the All-Star Game was coming to Minneapolis for the first time in 20 years. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, not even four years old and teeming with such distinct quirks as its Hefty bag outfield wall, was ready to shine. The game’s most powerful pitchers, strongest swingers and a few future Hall of Famers would position themselves around the asphalt-soft Astroturf as a national TV audience watched with anticipation. Baseball’s biggest summer day would play out under the dome.

Now, on the eve of the All-Star Game’s return to Minneapolis, let’s remember that the real history of those few days is in what happened the day before the ’85 Midsummer Classic. On a humid Monday afternoon, some 46,000 patrons paid $2 a pop to file inside the Metrodome and witness an event not seen before in baseball’s modern era: the game’s most prodigious sluggers belting out dingers, one by one, in an organized competition.

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Originally published: July 10, 2014. Last Updated: July 10, 2014.