KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Prince Fielder made a splash at the All-Star Home Run Derby. Eight of them.
The Detroit slugger joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win multiple titles, thrilling the crowd at Kauffman Stadium with several shots into the right-field fountain and beating Toronto’s Jose Bautista, 12-7, in the final Monday night.
“Just being mentioned with him is real special,” said Fielder, who spent time at Griffey’s house when he was a kid. “My dad (Cecil, a former major leaguer) would let me go over and play video games all day. He always took care of me when I was a kid.”
On a night when the Yankees’ Robinson Cano was repeatedly booed and went homerless, Fielder put on the most powerful display among baseball’s big boppers.
Winner at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium three years ago, Fielder had a total of 28 home runs over three rounds to cap the main event on the eve of the All-Star Game. He hit the four longest drives of the night, including a pair at 476 feet.
While the ball stayed out of McCovey Cove during the 2007 Derby at San Francisco’s AT&T Park and the right-field swimming pool last year at Chase Field in Phoenix, there was plenty of aquatic activity in Kansas City, second only to Rome for most fountains in cities around the world.
After three splash shots among his five homers in the first round, Fielder started off the second round as the setting sun lit up clouds in a pretty pink behind the left-field wall.
Fielder deposited four more balls into the 322-foot-wide water spectacular, which by then was illuminated in the twilight.
He added another water drive in the final round, then leaned against one of his sons while he watched Bautista swing.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Bautista said. “I’m capable of doing more. I had a lot of fun doing it.”
When he won three years ago in St. Louis, Fielder’s 23 homers included a 503-foot drive that disappeared between two sections of bleachers in right-center.
Cano set a final-round record of 12 en route to last year’s title in Phoenix, where he hit 32 overall.
This year Cano was the object of loud booing throughout by fans upset he didn’t select the Royals’ Billy Butler after promising to take a hometown player for his derby team.
Fans chanted “Bil-ly Butler!” in between their boos. When it was over, Cano got hugs from Boston’s David Ortiz and Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia.
“I was criticized before I got here. If you play for the Yankees you get booed everywhere you go,” Cano said.
It was the 17th time a player went homerless in the Derby, the first since Detroit’s Brandon Inge in 2009.
Carlos Gonzalez and Andrew McCutchen (four each) and Matt Kemp (one) also were dropped after the first round.
Carlos Beltran (12) was dropped after the second round, when Mark Trumbo and Bautista were tied with 13 apiece, leading to a swingoff won by Bautista 2-1.
Did you know?
Prince Fielder is the second person to win the MLB Home Run Derby more than once. He also won it in 2009 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Ken Griffey Jr. holds the record with three wins (1994 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, ’98 at Coors Field in Denver and ’99 at Fenway Park in Boston). Griffey’s eight times competing is also a record.