It's the All-Star break and those chosen to the All-Star team congrats! Those who were not can go home and rest and get ready for the second half of the season. My favorite part of the All-Star break is the Home Run Derby! Who doesn't like seeing players send baseballs flying into orbit!? It's true I was in the 2003 Home Run Derby, but as a ballshagger!
How did I get so lucky to do that? My Mom loved winning contests at our local grocery store for as long as I can remember. Since the rules were pretty loose back in those days, she would take the whole pad of blank entries and fill them out and stuff the box. I'm pretty sure she is the reason why most contests now are 1 entry per person. Anyways, growing up in Chicago the 2003 All-Star game was coming to town. At the local grocery store they had a contest for the 2003 All-Star Game. The grand prize was a spot as a ballshagger at the 2003 Home Run Derby, 2nd place was tickets to the 2003 All-Star Game, and 3rd place was a t-shirt or some lame prize no one wanted. So, my Mom knew how much I loved baseball, and decided to take all the blank entry forms and put my name on them, and wouldn't you know it a week later a FedEx envelope came! I knew we had won something, I thought it was going to be tickets to the All-Star Game. I opened the envelope and there it was in all its glory!
I had won the ballshagger spot plus , and was literally jumping up and down with joy! I got to be on a major league field, fielding baseballs from players I looked up to, and both of my parents were there to cheer me on! I can remember that day like it was yesterday. When you get to the field they feed you (hot dogs, chips, and pop), and then when it's about time for the derby they take all the ballshaggers and put them in the bullpen. Before they sent the first group out they had some rules we had to follow. They told us that we couldn't keep any of the balls that were hit into play we had to throw them in (I thought that was a lame rule, but whatever), but if a home run came into the bullpen where we were, we could keep it. Another rule, you could only be out there for 1 batter and then had to come in. They sent the first group of ballshaggers out and I was itching to get out there because I was in the second group. When it was my turn, I decided I was going to make the most of it and stay out there as long as I could. All the other ballshaggers were in left field, I thought this was weird because most of the players in the derby were lefties.
So I trotted out to right field and ignored every rule they told us and stayed out there for the entire derby in right field! I also got on ESPN a couple of times showcasing my skills of fielding ground balls (which I thought about keeping but didn't), and diving out of the way when a line drive was smoked to right field! I even got to meet a few of the players and players kids who were out there with us. It's experience I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, and why I love the Home Run Derby as much as I do. If your kids ever have the chance to be a ballshagger in the Home Run Derby, tell them to do it!