Whoever scheduled Hamilton to bat last in the first round has a definite flair for the dramatic. This was quite a show.
It was impressive enough that Hamilton went deep 28 times — breaking Bobby Abreu’s first-round record of 24, set in 2005 (and note that the other three participants advancing to the second round had 23 homers total). But the way he did it forced the fans to rise to their feet and his fellow All-Stars to shake their heads in amazement.
I already mentioned the homer that cleared the ballpark. I’d chronicle all the others, but suffice to say he was in a groove. He sent a few to the upper deck, sent one to the last row of the bleachers and sent another to the back of the black batter’s eye (drawing another huge roar and chants of “Ham-il-ton! Ham-il-ton!).
His seventh shot was an upper-deck blast to right, prompting Edinson Volquez — the man whom the Reds acquired for Hamilton last December — to walk over to Hamilton with a briefcase that he placed on the plate. Still not sure what that was all about.
With six outs, he hit a deep fly to right, and a fan reached over the wall and snagged it. The umpire ruled it was not a homer, and Hamilton raised his arms as if to say, “Are you kidding me?” The crowd booed the ump mercilessly, but it didn’t really matter. Hamilton just hit the next one out legitimately. Mid-round, Hanley Ramirez’s kid approached Hamilton with a bottled water to help him cool off. But there was no cooling Hamilton in this round.
He hit 13 in a row with eight outs, for crying out loud! When that amazing run ended as Hamilton fouled off a pitch, the crowd jokingly booed him. Tough crowd. But then they went right back into the “Ham-il-ton!” chant.
When the round was complete, the theme music from “The Natural” played.
You already know Hamilton’s story. You know how he had a dream that he was in this event, using it as a platform to show the world that you can overcome drug abuse. And you might even know that he brought a 71-year-old batting practice pitcher (Clay Counsil) from his hometown along for the ride. But to know all that, and then watch Hamilton in action here tonight was a memorable experience.
Oh, and that was only the first round. Let’s just hope Hamilton didn’t tire himself out. And let’s hope poor Clay Counsil’s arm doesn’t fall off.
OK, now we actually do need an ESPN breather. Here are you participants for the second round, with the homer totals carrying over…
Hamilton — 28
Berkman — 8
Braun — 7