1960 Home Run Derby TV Show Was Forerunner To Major
Home run sluggers Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron pose in uniform with bats. Mays and Aaron are two … [+] of the three major league players who have belted over 600 home runs. Willie Mays is at 660 while Hank Aaron is at 710, four shy of Babe Ruth’s MLB record.
The current Home Run Derby conducted by Major League Baseball during All Star Week has its roots in history.
Many baseball fans remember Home Run Derby, the black and white televised editions of home run contests between star Major League sluggers that originally aired in 1960.
The show originated from Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California. It was the home of the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels.
The show was hosted and produced by actor/broadcaster Mark Scott.
The televised games included nine innings. Anything other than a home run, or a pitch taken that was called a strike, was an out.
The winner of each contest received $2,000. The loser would get $1,000. Any player who hit three consecutive homers would get a $500 bonus.
The filming of the show took half an hour.
(L-R) Ernie Banks #14 of the Chicago Cubs and Mickey Mantle #7 of the New York Yankees pose with … [+] their bats prior to an exhibition game between National League All-Stars and American League All-Stars at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, October 12, 1958. Willie Mays would manage the NL squad and Mantle would manage the AL squad. (Photo by TPLP/Getty Images)
In the first televised show, Mickey Mantle defeated Willie Mays 9 home runs to 8. That show aired in April 1960, when the Major League Baseball season began.
Mantle then defeated Ernie Banks, and Jackie Jensen in subsequent battles. He lost to Harman Killebrew in Game 4.
Killebrew defeated Rocky Colavito, and Ken Boyer, before Henry Aaron took out Killebrew in Game 7.
Remarkably, Aaron defeated Jim Lemon, Eddie Mathews, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, and Bob Allison, before Wally Post took down Aaron by a score of 7-3 in Game 13.
Here are the winners of the rest of the Home Run Derby Series:
Game 14-Dick Stuart over Wally Post
Game 15- Dick Stuart over Gus Triandos
Game 16- Frank Robinson defeats Dick Stuart
Game 17- Bob Cerv over Frank Robinson
Game 18- Bob Allison over Bob Cerv
Game 19- Willie Mays over Bob Allison
Game 20- Willie Mays over Harmon Killebrew
Game 21- Willie Mays over Jim Lemon
Game 22- Gil Hodges over Willie Mays
Game 23- Ernie Banks over Gil Hodges
Game 24- Jackie Jensen over Ernie Banks
Game 25- Jackie Jensen over Rocky Colavito
Game 25- Mickey Mantle over Jackie Jensen
The most commonly used pitcher in the contests was a former outfielder named Tom Saffell.
Saffell, now 91, was a left-handed hitting centerfielder and pinch hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1949-1955. He finished his career playing for the Kansas City Athletics in 1955.
Catching for every Home Run Derby was Eddie Malone, who was a minor league catcher for Hollywood in the Pacific Coast League at the time. Malone played sparingly for the Chicago White Sox at the big league level in 1949 and 1950. He died in 2006, at the age of 85.
The umpire was former American League Umpire Art Passarella. Passarella also enjoyed an acting career at the time, and that’s how he knew actor and Derby Producer Mark Scott.
The source of great information regarding Home Run Derby, The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) has noted that filming of Home Run Derby was conducted in Los Angeles in December 1959.
During the 1959 season, 20 players hit 25 or more home runs. Every one of those players, with the exceptions of Joe Adcock, Orlando Cepeda, Woodie Held, and Charlie Maxwell appeared in a contest. The contestants represented 15 of the 16 Major League teams.
Only the Chicago White Sox did not have a player with at least 25 home runs.
At the age of 45, producer Mark Scott passed away from a heart attack on July 13, 1960. He died midway through the syndicated run of the show’s inaugural season.
Home Run Derby was not renewed for a second season, and the last contest was Game No. 26, when Mickey Mantle took out Jackie Jensen by a score of 13-10.
In the final stats, Hank Aaron registered a record of 6-1, making him the biggest winner in the Derby. He took home a total of $13,500 for his efforts.
However, Mickey Mantle hit the greatest number of home runs. His 44 homers in five contests were 10 more than Aaron hit in his seven games. Mantle won a total of $10,000 for his 4-1 record. Mantle averaged 8.8 home runs per game.
For his part in the drama, Ernie Banks took away $4,500, with a record of 1-2. But Banks hit a remarkable 25 homers with that losing record.
In 1988 ESPN acquired the rights to the original Home Run Derby show.
Now, MLB’s Home Run Derby gets tremendous attention with today’s sluggers taking the spotlight during All Star Week.
SEATTLE, WA – JULY 07: A detail photo of an All-Star Game chain worn by a participant prior to the … [+] Jr. Home Run Derby Finals at T-Mobile Park on Friday, July 7, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
MLB Photos via Getty Images
1960 Home Run Derby TV Show Was Forerunner To Major
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