Note: This page links to the Home Run Derby on All-Star Monday. For the television program that aired from 1959 to 1961 click here.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Home Run Derby has taken on many forms since its beginning in 1985. It is an afternoon to evening event on the Monday before the All-Star Game. It has been televised nationally since 1994 on ESPN, with Chris Berman providing the commentary every year until 2017, when he was replaced by Karl Ravetch.
The format of the competition has changed regularly, as MLB tried to maximize excitement and encourage its top sluggers to take part. As a result, it is not really possible to compare results across eras.
When the Derby first began in 1985 each player received two turns at bat with five outs per turn at bat. Any swing that was not a home run was an out. This format allowed for the possibility of ties. The derby started out as a contest between the two leagues, with each league having an equal number of players. At the first derby there were ten players (five per league), by the second the number was down to six (three per league) and the third only featured four sluggers.
The 1988 derby at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, OH was cancelled due to rain. From 1989 to 1994, there were eight players invited, four from each league.
The format changed in 1991, to three rounds rather than two innings. Each player received ten outs per round. The top four players with the most home runs in the first round moved on to the second round. The top two hitters in the second round batted for the championship. From 1996 to 1999 there were ten competitors at the derby.
The format of the derby was changed in 2000 when, after the first round, the four advancing players were put into two seeded brackets, with the winners of each match-up advancing to the finals. This format was used from 2000 to 2003.
In 2005, as part of the announcement of the inaugural World Baseball Classic, the derby featured eight players representing their native countries rather than their respective leagues. The nations represented were Canada, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United States and Venezuela. Andruw Jones represented the Netherlands having been born on Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles.
The rules changed once again in 2006, when total home runs replaced round by round totals. The top four hitters in the first round advanced to the semifinals, and their home run total from the first round carried into the semifinals. The two players with the most home runs in the semifinals (which included the player's first round clouts) advanced to the finals. At this point the home run totals were cleared.
In 2011, a captain was chosen in each league, responsible for picking his three teammates, in order to give an extra incentive for the chosen sluggers to agree to take part. David Ortiz and Prince Fielder were the first two captains.
In 2015, the format was changed again, with hitters being placed into a bracket and going head-to-head with an opponent from the rival league. A clock also replaced the ten outs. Batters now had five minutes to hit as many homers as possible, with no account being taken of balls that did not go for homers. Home runs stopped the clock, which restarted after an out or a swing and miss, and sluggers were given bonus time for particularly long homers. In subsequent years, the format was tweaked again, with the concept of leagues being dropped completely and the 8 participants being seeded from 1 to 8. The time was limited to three minutes, with only one stoppage to be taken at the hitter's request, with a bonus round of 30 seconds available to all batters, and another possible 30-second time bonus for hitting at least one ball further than a pre-set distance. In the final round, the time limit was reduced to two minutes.
In 2019, MLB introduced a $1 million bonus for the winning player, as an incentive to have more top-rank stars take part in the event.
At both the 2005 and 2006 derbies, Century 21 - a real estate company - sponsored a charity tie-in with the event. The Golden Ball was used once a player reached nine outs, thus having only one out remaining. For each home run hit with a golden ball, Century 21 and Major League Baseball donated $21,000 to charity. In both derbies, fourteen homers were hit raising $294,000 in each year.
The 2007 and 2008 editions of the golden ball were sponsored by State Farm Insurance. They pledged $17,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs across the country for every home run hit with 9 outs. The 17,000 supposedly represents the number of State Farm Agents across the country.
- Most wins: 3; Ken Griffey, Jr. (1994, 1998, 1999)
- Most appearances: 8; Ken Griffey, Jr. (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)
- Most home runs, one round: Pete Alonso; 35 (2021, First Round)
- Most home runs, one event: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.; 91 (2019)
- held on Monday, July 15, 1985 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
- held on Monday, July 14, 1986 at Astrodome
- held on Monday, July 13, 1987 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
The 1988 Home Run Derby was to be held at Riverfront Stadium, but was cancelled due to rain
- held on Monday, July 10, 1989 at Anaheim Stadium
- held on Monday, July 9, 1990 at Wrigley Field
- held on Monday, July 8, 1991 at SkyDome
- held on Monday, July 13, 1992 at Jack Murphy Stadium
- held on Monday, July 12, 1993 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
- First Extra Round: Griffey Jr., 4; Gonzalez, 4
- Second Extra Round: Gonzalez, 1; Griffey Jr., 0 - Juan Gonzalez wins the home-run derby
- held on Monday, July 11, 1994 at Three Rivers Stadium
The American League won the contest over the National League, 21 homers to 9.
- held on Monday, July 10, 1995 at The Ballpark in Arlington
The American League won the contest over the National League, 17 homers to 10.
- held on Monday, July 8, 1996 at Veterans Stadium
The American League won the contest over the National League, 17 homers to 14. The American League contingent featured six players to the National League's four.
- held on Monday, July 7, 1997 at Jacobs Field
The American League won the contest over the National League, 29 homers to 24.
- held on Monday, July 6, 1998 at Coors Field
The National League won the contest over the American League, 27 homers to 10.
- held on Monday, July 12, 1999 at Fenway Park
The National League won the contest over the American League, 16 homers to 14.
- held on Monday, July 10, 2000 at Turner Field
The American League won the contest over the National League, 19 homers to 17.
- held on Monday, July 9, 2001 at Safeco Field
The American League won the contest over the National League, 22 homers to 21.
- held on Monday, July 8, 2002 at Miller Park
Giambi advanced to the Finals after swingoff versus Konerko.
The American League won the contest over the National League, 21 homers to 13.
- held on Monday, July 14, 2003 at U.S. Cellular Field
Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols advanced the the semifinals over Gary Sheffield due to higher season-to-date home run totals; Edmonds had 28, Pujols had 27 , while Sheffield had 22.
Semifinals matchups were determined by first round home run totals, with the season-to-date home run total being the tie-breaker.
The National League won the contest over the American League, 24 homers to 22.
- held on Monday, July 12, 2004 at Minute Maid Park
Tejada hit the winning home run with 5 outs remaining in final round.
The derby featured players representing seven nations, as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States that would play in the following year's World Baseball Classic, therefore the league representation was unbalanced with five National Leaguers versus three from the American League.
- held on Monday, July 11, 2005 at Comerica Park
The National League won the contest over the American League, 40 homers to 17.
- held on Monday, July 10, 2006 at PNC Park
Howard hit the winning home run with 5 outs remaining in final round.
The American League won the contest over the National League, 42 homers to 32.
- held on Monday, July 9, 2007 at AT&T Park
The American League won the contest over the National League, 66 homers to 39.
- held on Monday, July 14, 2008 at Yankee Stadium
The National League won the contest over the American League, 51 homers to 31.
- held on Monday, July 13, 2009 at Busch Stadium
Pujols, Pena, and Mauer had a swing-off for the final second-round position. Swing-off home runs are not counted toward the player's or league's total.
The American League won the contest over the National League, 50 homers to 44.
- held on Monday, July 12, 2010 at Angel Stadium
The American League won the contest over the National League in a landslide, 76 homers to 19.
- held on Monday, July 11, 2011 at Chase Field
- Fielder and Ortiz won a swing-off against Holliday to advance to the second round. Swing-off totals (in parentheses) are not counted towards individual or league totals.
The American League won the contest over the National League in a landslide, 61 homers to 21.
- held on Monday, July 9, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium
- Bautista beat Trumbo in a swingoff as both were tied with 13 homers after 2 rounds.
The American League won the contest over the National League, 54 homers to 50.
- held on Monday, July 15, 2013 at Citi Field
The American League won the contest over the National League, 52 homers to 24. A bracket format was used, with the top home run hitter for each league in the first round getting a bye directly into the semifinal round, to face the second round winner.
- held on Monday, July 14, 2014 at Target Field
- Cespedes beat Donaldson in a swing-off as both were tied with 3 homers after the first round; Frazier beat Morneau in a swing-off as both were tied with 2 homers after the first round.
The format was changed, with the 8 participants being seeded 1 to 8 and facing off head-to-head in a bracket, with the winner advancing to the next round. In the opening round, both leagues hit 44 homers; National League players then won the final three head-to-head match-ups to finish ahead of the AL, 81-78.
- held on Monday, July 13, 2015 at Great American Ball Park
The format remained the same for the third straight year. However, as there were five players from the National League competing against three American Leaguers, the NL's big lead in total homers was almost a foregone conclusion. The NL won the competition between the leagues, 124 to 66.
- held on Monday, July 11, 2016 at Petco Park
The format remained the same as in 2015. This time there were four players from each league competing, however, with one all-NL and one all-AL match-up in the first round. The American League easily won the competition between the leagues, with 116 homers to 75.
- held on Monday, July 10, 2017 at Marlins Park
- held on Monday, July 16, 2018 at Nationals Park
The participants were announced on July 11th, with seven participants from the National League and just one from the American League after some of the junior circuit's most prominent sluggers, such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez, declined to participate.
- held on Monday, July 8, 2019 at Progressive Field
The participants were announced on July 3rd, although six of the names were already public by that point (only Joc Pederson and Alex Bregman had not yet been announced). In spite of bonus prizes having been increased, there were still a number of no-shows among the home run leaders, leaving a spot for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had only hit 8 major league homers by the time his participation was confirmed. Christian Yelich, the major league home run leader, withdrew at the last-minute and was replaced by Matt Chapman.
Two rookies made it to the final round, eventual winner Pete Alonso and Guerrero, who along the way set a record with 29 homers in the first round, then shattered it with 40 in an epic second round face-off against Joc Pederson that required three tie-breakers! Guerrero also hit the longest homer of the night, at 488 feet. Alonso won all three of his rounds by just one homer, but it was enough to pocket the increased $1 million prize, more than doubling his annual salary.
- held on Monday, July 12, 2021 at Coors Field
After the cancellation of the 2020 All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby returned in 2021 with the participants and seedings being announced on July 7th. The two major absences were those of 2019 runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the second most prolific home run hitter at the time, who elected not to take part this time, and Kyle Schwarber, who was injured. All participants wore uniform number 44 in honor of the recently deceased Hank Aaron.
The first round battle between Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani was an epic one, requiring two tiebreakers, with Soto connecting on all three of his swings in the second of the tiebreakers. Meanwhile, Pete Alonso set a record with his 35 dingers in the first round, the destroyed Soto in the second round, exceeding his total with almost a minute left to go, all the while multiplying the tape-measure shots. He faced dark horse Trey Mancini in the final round, whose presence there was already a triumph after his overcoming cancer. But Mancini was not going to roll over before the Alonso steamroller as he blasted a very impressive 22 long balls in the final round. Still, it was not enough, as Alonso seemed to top him effortlessly, blasting five consecutive balls into the depths of Coors Field in the bonus round to defend his title in very impressive style.
- Joseph McCollum and Marcus Jaiclin: "Home Run Derby Curse: Fact or Fiction ?", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 39, Number 2 (Fall 2010), pp. 37-40.
- Kevin Santo: "MLB Home Run Derby: Six show-stopping performances", USA Today Sports, July 7, 2017.