Felicitaciones to the winner of last night’s Caribbean Series home run derby, Felix Perez! Today’s blog post honors that historic event by paying homage to the 1960s television show, Home Run Derby. The show was created and produced by sports broadcaster Mark Scott. Each episode of the show featured a contest between two Major Leaguers. The game took place over nine “innings” – each player was give three outs per inning. He who hit the most home runs, won the contest and was invited back for the next episode. The winner of each episode was awarded $2,000; the other player received $1,000. If a player hit three consecutive home runs he would receive a $500 bonus. Four home runs in a row earned $1,000. Each additional consecutive home run was worth $1,000. Hank Aaron won $13,500 over six episodes – the most of any player on the show.
Nineteen major league players competed on the show, including: Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Rocky Colavito, Hank Aaron, and Frank Robinson. The show was filmed during the off-season in 1959 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, former home of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League (and home to MLB’s Angels during the first season in 1961). Home Run Derby aired from January 2 through July 2, 1960.
Unfortunately, Mark Scott died of a heart attack at the age of 45 on July 13, 1960. Without his vision and enthusiasm, the other producers decided to cancel the show. In the late 1980s, ESPN bought the rights to show. Episode one – Mantle v. Mays – appears below.