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2001 All-Star Game
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All-Star Game

Gonzalez dethrones Sosa in 2001 Home Run Derby

By Justice B. Hill
MLB.com

Video Highlights
Round 1: 56K | 300K Semis: 56K | 300K Finals: 56K | 300K

2001 -- SAFECO Field, Seattle
Player Team Round 1 Round 2 Finals Totals Longest
Todd Helton Colorado 2 -- -- 2 425
Luis Gonzalez Arizona 5 5 6* 16 440
Barry Bonds San Francisco 7 3 -- 10 476
Sammy Sosa Chicago 3 8 2 13 468
Alex Rodriguez Texas 2 -- -- 2 415
Bret Boone Seattle 3 -- -- 3 406
Troy Glaus Anaheim 0 -- -- 0 --
Jason Giambi Oakland 14 6 -- 20 460
*Luis Gonzalez wins in Championship Round over Sammy Sosa

 

More HR Derby Info >>

Home Run Derby preview

2001 Rules and Format

Past HR Derby results

SEATTLE -- Just call Luis Gonzalez the new "The King of Swing."

The title seems to fit like a Versace suit after the Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder outslugged defending champion Sammy Sosa, 6-2, in the finals of baseball's Home Run Derby Monday night at SAFECO Field.

"I'll tell you what: This was exciting out here for me today," Gonzalez said. "I'm kind of in a fog, especially compared to those guys going into the last couple of rounds."

Those guys would be Sosa, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.

But the final round belonged to Sosa and Gonzalez, the two heaviest hitters in Round Two. They reached the finals with impressive victories in front of 46,733 fans. Gonzalez beat Bonds, whose 39 homers at midseason leads all in baseball, 5-3 in their Round Two matchup.

Sosa had a different challenge: Giambi, who pounded out a contest-record 14 home runs in the first round. But Giambi could only hit six to Sosa's eight in the Round Two.

In beating Giambi, Sosa made up for a poor first round to advance in this eight-man show of power hitting. He entered Round Two revved-up and reached the seats with blast after blast in the 400-foot range, including a 468-footer.

Sosa, though, couldn't duplicate that output in the finals. His two homers went for 385 feet and 366 feet, paltry distances in comparison to what he'd done in earlier.

He was no match for Gonzalez.

"This has been an incredible day for me today," Gonzalez said. "I was so nervous coming out there, this being my first Home Run Derby," he said. "To get past the first round and then the second round, and to look up there and go, 'Gee.' I was just hoping I'd fare well out there -- to hit one or two."

His worry, he said, was that he'd end up with a zero, a number that would open him up for a round of ridicule inside the NL clubhouse. But Gonzalez did better than he expected.

Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez is all smiles after winning the 2001 Home Run Derby.
He led off the second round and racked up five dingers -- the same number he hit in the first round.

"Once I got past that first round, I was kind of a little bit more at ease," Gonzalez said.

In the first round, however, it was Giambi who led.

"I think everybody's favorite after the first round was Giambi," Gonzalez said. "But when you sit around for a long time like that, and then you have to crank it up in a hurry, you get kind of tired and winded, especially when your heart is beating a thousand times a second out there."

Giambi couldn't sustain his first-round power. Unable to carry any of those 14 homers into Round Two, his six wasn't enough to reach the finals.

Bonds finished the first round with seven homers, even though he had to stop midway through his at-bat and wait for police to chase a fan off the field. The delay didn't ruin his concentration, as baseball's leading home-run hitter shot past Gonzalez into second place behind Giambi.

Bonds' 476-foot first-round moon shot proved to be the night's longest.

Bret Boone, Alex Rodriguez -- the former Seattle Mariner who returned to SAFECO to mixed reviews from the packed stadium -- Todd Helton and Troy Glaus were eliminated after the first round.

Glaus, obviously not in his power-hitting mode, didn't hit any homers to go with his 10 outs.

"I'm sure Troy Glaus is probably one of the guys you want at the plate, so I'm sure he'll be able to live with himself," Gonzalez said. "The guys will probably give him a hard time, but that's part of the good nature of baseball, being around those guys."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer with MLB.com. He can be reached at jbernardh@aol.com

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