Looking Back on 50 Years of the Phillies Home Run Derby
The Phillies are celebrating 50 years of their annual Home Run Derby competition, where young kids get to live out their dreams of hitting in Citizens Bank Park. Leaders of the Phillies home run derby, and many others were all set to celebrate the 50th season of this wonderful event last year. Everything was prepared, but then COVID struck the world.
Phillies Home Run Derby started in 1971, the first year of Veterans Stadium. Kids would hit at different small parks around Philadelphia, where the winners would eventually earn their spot to hit at the Phillies stadium at the time, Veterans Stadium. The idea around the derby has changed as time went on, bringing kids into Citizens Bank Park once it opened.
The yearly tradition was to always do the Derby before a game, where fans would enter the park and catch the last few swings. This year, things were a little different. The Derby was held in the morning, so the players and leaders had a full day to enjoy their time at the ballpark, and to ensure the safety of COVID-19.
Bradley was honored pre-game of a Phillies game this year and was presented with baseball cards of past MLB stars that he’s once pitched to. Those stars include Mike Trout, Christian Walker, Erik Kratz, Jamie Moyer, Ben Davis, and more. Bradley specifically said he remembers the tank shot home runs that Mike Trout would hit as a little kid.
This event brought everyone together in Philadelphia to share a mutual passion for baseball, but also struck competition from the kids. Any true athlete wants to win anything that they do, and former players talked about how this competition gave them “a drive to win”, and always wanted to take home the 1st place award.
Paul Bradley and John Bradley are now running the whole event, with the baton being passed on from their father many years ago. John is set to retire from the HRD this upcoming season, but Paul says he’ll still be behind the pitching machine for many years to come.
Mandatory Credit: Sea Isle News