(Watch a post-derby interview with the 2011 champion here.)
With two of America’s major sports leagues mired in work stoppages closely tied to the inability of owners and players to put the game before a bigger paycheck, Monday night’s Home Run Derby in Phoenix provided a brief reminder of what makes sports special.
Robinson Cano’s 12-11 victory over Adrian Gonzalez was hardly expected, but the fact that his awesome power display came with his father on the mound, shined a light on the father-son tradition of America’s pastime.
The New York Yankees second baseman needed only six of his allotted outs in setting a final round record of 12 long balls — including a 459-foot moon shot — to best his Red Sox rival, and he was sure to give credit where it was due.
"The best thing wasn't my swing. It was the kind of man who was throwing — my dad. He knows me really well."
Jose Cano — a former big league pitcher with the Houston Astros — got a call from his son at his home in the Dominican Republic and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pitch to Robbie on such a big stage. And the decision was more than a novelty choice. The older Cano has been pitching batting practice to his son for years in the offseason and knows his son’s swing as well as anyone.
Said Jose Cano:
“When he called me at home, that he wanted me to come to the United States because he’s going to be in the Home Run Derby, I said, ‘I’ll be happy to pitch to you, because that’s what I do at home.”
Father and son were not the only Cano’s involved in Monday’s festivities either. Robinson — named after Jackie Robinson — was sure to acknowledge his mother, too. Watch Cano clearly mouth the words “that’s for you mom,” after mashing this 450-foot bomb.
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Photos Gallery: 2011 Home Run Derby