Big Mac conquers Monster
Griffey repeats as Home Run champ, McGwire steals show
Posted: Tuesday July 13, 1999 12:28 PM
BOSTON (AP) -- The Green Monster met its match Monday.
Mark McGwire didn't just conquer The Wall. He embarrassed it, making it look like little more than a picket fence.
He didn't even dent the 87-year-old icon. He sent one soaring off the light tower, about 100 feet above the field and 60 feet over the wall's top.
Clearing Lansdowne Street was easy. A few seemed to soar over the Mass Pike toward the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square.
Even on an official off-day, McGwire set another home run record.
By the time Ken Griffey Jr. repeated as Home Run Derby champion Monday night, it was all anticlimactic. Fenway Park was buzzing about McGwire's 13 home runs in the first round.
"I was having fun," Big Mac said. "I love doing these things. Earlier in my career, when I didn't accept myself as a home-run hitter, I didn't like doing these things. But now I enjoy them. I think sometimes it's better than the game because I haven't really had a great All-Star game."
McGwire's 13 homers off Tim Flannery broke the one-round record set by Cal Ripken in 1991 at Toronto's SkyDome. His longest shot was his last of the first round, a 488-foot drive deep over the screen and into the summer night. Of the eight longest shots, eight were his, all 450 feet or longer.
"I'd like to question a lot of those measurements on some of those balls," Boston's Nomar Garciaparra said. "I don't think it's 480 feet to the Mass Pike."
All the other All-Stars were on their feet, applauding him. Just like all of baseball last year.
Rafael Palmeiro and a few other players followed every swing with camcorders. Even Griffey sounded awed.
"(You're) watching Mark hit them 500 feet when you're getting them over like 420, 430, and his balls are doing the postal service, just flying by you and dropping mail off at your house," Griffey said.
Big Mac's attack totaled 5,692 feet -- more than a mile -- and a lot more than he hit one mile up at Denver's Coors Field last July.
"Last year, I didn't do so good in the home run contest," said McGwire, who hit four at Coors and apologized to the fans. "In these home run contests, it's up to the pitcher. Tim got me in a good grove."
McGwire, who hit 18 home runs at Fenway while he played for the Oakland Athletics, powered the NL to a 27-10 victory. But when it came to the individual title, he got just three in the second round and didn't make it to the final.
"Sitting and waiting tired me out," he said. "I probably tried a little too hard. I was more relaxed in the first round."
Griffey, like Ted Williams showing left-handed hitters can flash power at Fenway, hit 10 homers in the second round, including a 460-foot shot to the back of the center-field triangle and an opposite-field drive over The Wall and into the screen. Milwaukee's Jeromy Burnitz hit six and also advanced.
"I'm just sad Mac didn't make it because I know that's why everybody's here to watch." Burnitz said, sounding apologetic. "Best show on Earth."
Griffey, despite a sore knee, won the final 3-2, winning the Derby for the third time since it began in 1990. He didn't seem to take it that seriously.
"I don't think there is 'defending the title,'" he said. "It's just going out there and having a lot fun."
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