Former Astros legends admit nerves still got to them prior to exhibition Home Run Derby
In the days leading up to the Astros' first Legends Home Run Derby, the club knew only two things for sure: there was going to be a big turnout of fans to watch it, and they were going to need to stock up on Advil.
How the participants would actually fare? That was far less certain.
That's not to knock the hitting abilities of any of the participants, a group of four that, combined, hit a Ruthian 714 career Major League home runs. But it's been a while since any of them have stepped into a batter's box and tried to swing for the fences -- and that's what made Sunday's pregame event so intriguing.
Turns out, they still have game. Fifty-two-year-old Hall of Famer Craig Biggio hit eight homers in the first round and three in the second. He finished in second place to 40-year-old Luke Scott, who launched seven in the first round and six in the second.
Preston Wilson, 44, hit six in the first round, and Geoff Blum, 45, hit three:
"The bragging rights are that you got through it alive," Biggio pontificated. "Nobody got hurt, and nobody has to go see a trainer right now."
Once he got into a groove, Biggio, who was given a one-homer head start in Round ,1 was a Crawford Box machine, cranking 320-feet home runs like a boss. The left-handed hitting Scott, only five years removed from his last Major League game, not only hit the most homers, but he hit them the furthest, reaching the upper deck in right field at least once.
His game plan?
"Just swing hard, in case you hit it," Scott said. "I told [pitcher Javier] Bracamonte to throw it to my barrel, and he did a good job of that."
All four participants admitted to having a few jitters at the start. Though it was still an hour until gametime, the stadium was already around half-full for this event.
"When they introduced us, we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'I don't have any saliva in my mouth,'" Blum said. "We played on the biggest stage for a long time, but to come back out here and try to do it again, I was rattled."
Added Wilson: "For the first time in a while, I didn't sleep well at night worrying about what I'd have to do on the field. When I walked down that tunnel, it was a bit nerve-racking.
"After the first few swings, it was, 'OK. I can do this.'"