McGwire fondly remembers winning 1992 Derby in San Diego
Padres' bench coach belted 12 homers to grab the crown
SAN DIEGO -- When Mark McGwire put on a dazzling display of power during the 1992 Home Run Derby at Jack Murphy Stadium, most of the baseball world had to wait a few hours to watch it.
McGwire, now the Padres' bench coach, ran away with that 1992 contest -- the last time San Diego played host to All-Star festivities. Then, later that evening, the event was broadcast on tape delay.
"The Home Run Derby, I don't believe it was talked about that much at the time," McGwire said. "But I like the way it's evolved. I think it's become more exciting than the game itself."
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McGwire finished that afternoon -- July 13, 1992 -- with 12 homers, well ahead of Ken Griffey Jr.'s seven dingers and tied a record at the time. No one else, including the Padres' own Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff, hit more than four that year.
It was the only Derby McGwire would win. He participated in seven during his big league career -- including the 1999 edition at Fenway Park, in which he launched 13 homers in the first round but faded in the semis.
In that regard, the 1992 Derby holds a special place in McGwire's heart -- even if he'd go on to hit more homers in Philadelphia in '96 and Boston in '99.
"We had tape delay. It was before [the Derby] really became a prime-time show," McGwire said. "I don't even know how many home runs I hit. I just remember ... that it was pretty awesome winning it. It's the only one that I got to win, even though I've done pretty well in the first rounds [of] a few of them."
McGwire remembers that year's All-Star festivities as fondly as he remembers the game and the Derby.
"We had the gala at the zoo. It was awesome, it was really cool," McGwire said. "[San Diego] did a great job. It's going to probably be even better this year because it's downtown [at Petco Park], where everyone's staying."
There's a good chance a current Padres player, under McGwire's tutelage, could be in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby this July 11. Wil Myers and Matt Kemp are the favorites.
McGwire's advice? He says it's all about developing a rapport with your batting-practice pitcher.
McGwire specifically touted Myers, because he's seen the first baseman's prodigious batting-practice blasts. Myers has already selected his potential Derby pitcher -- infielders coach Eddie Rodriguez.
McGwire -- who knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in the Derby -- has watched Myers and Rodriguez work together before. He says they'd have a chance to compete for the title this July, if selected.
"If you watch batting practice, the way he swings, the ball tends to leave the ballpark a lot more," McGwire said. "Also, the fact that he's publicly said he'd be ecstatic to be invited says a lot to me."
Drawing from his 1992 All-Star Game memories, when he went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, McGwire said he has no doubt San Diego will live up to its billing as a fantastic host city for the Midsummer Classic.
"It's going to be a great time," McGwire said. "San Diego throws a great party."