Clint Hurdle content to just watch this year’s Home Run Derby
When Josh Bell steps into the batters’ box in Cleveland’s Progressive Field next Monday for the Home Run Derby, Clint Hurdle will only be a spectator, perhaps tucked into his couch in front of the TV at home.
Which is just fine with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager, who threw nearly 200 pitches in the 1999 Home Run Derby at Boston’s Fenway Park.
At the time, Hurdle was the Colorado Rockies’ hitting coach (three years before he became their manager). He was working closely with the Rockies’ Larry Walker, who was on his way to the ’99 National League batting title. Hurdle was Walker’s natural choice to throw to him in the Derby.
Walker solved Hurdle’s tosses for only two home runs and he was eliminated in the first round.
“I was the only guy who got Walker out that year,” Hurdle said Monday. “I figured, `I’m done. This didn’t work out very well. It’s over Walker’s going to kill me.’ ”
Then, Jeff Bagwell asked Hurdle to throw to him. After Bagwell hit five homers to advance, Jeromy Burnitz, who knew Hurdle from their time together in the New York Mets’ organization, came to him in a panic. His pitcher had taken ill.
When Burnitz hit six homers off Hurdle, here comes Ken Griffey Jr.’s posse, looking for a pitcher.
“Yeah, let me turn this one down,” Hurdle said, laughing.
As it turned out, Griffey Jr. beat Burnitz in the final round.
“I threw to four guys in the first round. Three got to the semifinals. Two got to the finals,” Hurdle said. “I threw 190 some pitches. I was a little tired at the end of the day.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .