RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a league where each and every player is fighting day in and day out to reach the show, Tuesday night offered some of the Eastern League’s best the chance to let loose and have some fun on the field.
The league’s home run derby took center stage at the Diamond, with many of the top hitters at the AA level taking hacks alongside local celebrities.
When all was said and done, Darick Hall of Reading led all hitters and the Eastern Division with 175 total points, Erie’s Isaac Paredes paced the West and New Hampshire manager and former Richmond Brave Mike Mordecai claimed the celebrity title. Six teams made up of both all-stars and area famous faces stepped into the batter’s box, with Tim Hightower’s squad claiming the top spot.
Was it a competition? Sure, but the theme of the day seemed to be fun and enjoyment. Celebrity talent ranged from Mo Alie-Cox, who claims he had never swung a baseball bat prior to Tuesday night, to Will Clark, Mordecai and Willie Harris, who have spent time in the major leagues, with Clark a six time all-star.
VCU head hoops coach Mike Rhoades and his Richmond counterpart, Chris Mooney, also suited up as celebrity participants, along with former NFLers Aaron Brooks, Michael Robinson and Hightower.
All-in-all, it was a home run derby that will be difficult to top. A protective net surrounded the inner portion of the infield, allowing for fan hospitality areas on the dirt of the infield during the event. It gave attendees a unique view of the derby, though a few shallow fly balls found there way into that area.
Parney also had his own way of making it interesting, standing on an elevated lift in short center field. Batters who hit Parney would be given bonus points, but would lose 25 points if he caught the ball with the oversized glove he was wearing (he did catch a ball early in the derby, and from what we noticed, nobody was able to hit him).
Targets were placed in the outfield which batters got 20 points for hitting. They also received 20 points for a home run, ten points for hitting the wall in the air and five points for making contact with the wall on the bounce or a roll. Hitting Parney would have netted them 50 points.
Four Flying Squirrels got the chance to take swings for the Western Division. Jacob Heyward, Jonah Arenado, Zach Houchens and Jalen Miller all were participants in this year’s derby.
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