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From the archives (w/audio): Tony Gwynn talks hitting and Yankee Stadium with Sullivan and Harrington

By Mike Harrington

The tributes keep pouring in the wake of the news that Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at 54. As you would expect, has put together a terrific Gwynn package full of audio and video.

During the 1998 World Series, Jerry Sullivan was among a small group of reporters who chatted with Gwynn about his trip to Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. When you read Sully's column, it's clear Gwynn held the Yankees and the Bronx in a huge amount of reverence.

And like Gwynn said at the end of the piece: The Yankees were "the steepest mountain out there to climb". They swept the Padres in four straight but it wasn't Gwynn's fault. He batted .500 and tied Series MVP Scott Brosius for the most hits in the series with eight. One of them was this soaring home run into the right-field facade in Game One:

Ten years later, on the day of the 2008 All-Star Game that was one of the shining moments of the final season in The House that Ruth Built, reporters were given a chance to interview several Hall of Famers taking part in a red carpet parade that day. We piled into a ballroom at the Hotel Intercontinental and I was floored at the baseball royalty in front of me, as my blog from that day clearly shows. 

Eventually, I made my way to a back corner of the room where Gwynn was speaking to a lone Japanese reporter. They were talking about Ichiro and Gwynn was fascinating. Then I asked Gwynn about his trip to Monument Park 10 years earlier and he recalled the trip in vivid detail. It was with his son, Tony Jr., now a 31-year-old player for the Phillies. I had to leave him at that point to catch a couple others, notably Tommy Lasorda and Wade Boggs, for their thoughts on the closing of the old ballpark. Sad to think now. Lots of hitting questions to be had. 

You can click the audio file to hear the brief conversation below. RIP, Mr. Padre.

Mike Harrington talks to Tony Gwynn in 2008

From the archives: Links to today's baseball memories

Dave Roberts' famous steal of second in the 2004 ALCS (Getty Images).

By Mike Harrington

I'll be joining Dave Roberts and Ernie Young tonight in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, and be sure to read my column in today's editions about my top memories on the Bisons/MLB beat the last 20 years. 

I also wrote a story today about Young's memories of Buffalo and Sunday's Inside Baseball column featured a chat with Roberts on his famous stolen base with the Red Sox in 2004. 

Want even more reading material? Jerry Sullivan wrote this column on Young after the 2000 Olympic gold medal game in Australia, four years before he joined the Bisons.

As for my memories list, here's a look back to the stories I produced on the scene at each of the moments in the article: 

1. Yankees-Arizona World Series Game 7 in 2001 -- Luis Gonzalez's game-winner.

2. 2004 ALCS/World Series -- Red Sox beat Yankees and Cardinals
    Game Seven of the ALCS        Game Four of the World Series 

3. Bisons 1997 clincher at Iowa --- Story one: Recap of Sean Casey's home run   Story two: Torey Lovullo presenting Bob Rich the game ball 

4. 2004 IL finals Game Four -- Bisons win title at home

5. 2007 Cleveland Indians -- A feature heading into the postseason

6. 1998 Bisons clincher -- Game Five in Durham

7. 2000 Subway Series -- Story one: The crazy Piazza press conference the day after BatGate. Story two: The Yankees' Game Five clincher. 

8. 2008 All-Star Game -- A web-only version filed at 3 a.m.

9. 2011 World Series Game Six -- Some scorebook pencils bit the dust in the 10th when the Cardinals tied it again.

10. 1995 ALDS Game One -- Ex-Bison Tony Pena sends us home at 2:08 a.m.

What didn't make my cut? Some pretty good ones.

There was Jeff Manto's three-homer game in 1997, the Bisons' 19-inning loss to Scranton in Game Five of the IL semifinals two nights before 9/11, Roger Clemens' one-hitter at Seattle in the 2000 ALCS, the opener at new Yankee Stadium in 2009, Stephen Strasburg's visit to Buffalo in 2011 and my chat with Hall of Famer Bob Feller during Strasburg's outing in Cleveland two weeks later, and last year's Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo.

(Bartolo Colon's no-hitter here in 1997 is not on any list because I was off that night, although I was in the ballpark to witness it.) 

Mo is the Man -- albeit in the 8th


By Mike Harrington

Nice collage tweeted (above) by MLB Public Relations showing the adulation of today's New York City papers toward Mariano Rivera. As well there should be. As All-Star moments go, there was Ted Williams at the mound with everyone around him in 1999 and there was Mo with the field by himself last night.

I wasn't a fan of how Jim Leyland played this one, frankly. The chances of Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the eighth were remote and Mariano could have thus gotten the save in the ninth, instead of will now be the most memorable hold in the history of relief pitching. But I get it too. Even if things happened and Leyland got Mariano up quick, there would not have been this kind of moment. Fair enough.

FOX's Ken Rosenthal gives Leyland's side of things here and I buy it. As time goes on, it will be all about the moment and not whether it was the eighth or ninth. ESPN's Jayson Stark is a little more in my camp, admitting a hold for Rivera was "frankly, kind of weird."

Did you miss it? Check it out below:

Triple-A All-Star Game: Tonight in Salt Lake City, next year in Buffalo

Not much to say about last night's MLB All-Star Game, a 5-1 win for the National League in Phoenix. Bud Selig insists it counts, so I'm sure the Phillies, Giants, Braves, Cardinals, etc are happy for the chance to have homefield advantage in the World Series.

The stage shifts tonight to Salt Lake City for the 24th Triple-A All-Star Game. It will air at 9 p.m. on MLB Network and Radio 1520 AM with Brad Mills (Las Vegas-Toronto) starting for the Pacific Coast League and Zach McAllister (Columbus-Cleveland) going for the International League. The Bisons' lone representative is pitcher Chris Schwinden.

Once tonight's game is over, the focus shifts to Coca-Cola Field, which will host the 25th anniversary game on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. The all-star game began at then-Pilot Field on July 14, 1988 but was a much simpler affair back then with few ancilliary activities. Next year's activities will include the Triple-A Home Run Derby on July 9 and a gala luncheon at the Adam's Mark on gameday.

The Bisons have opened ticket sales for the events, at $35 for the Home Run Derby and game, and $25 for the luncheon.

---Mike Harrington

Jeter 3K Watch on hold: Game rained out

I'm told it's pouring in Yankee Stadium and with the forecast bad all night, the Yankees made an early call to postpone tonight's game against the Rays, banging it about 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

So Derek Jeter remains stuck at 2,998 and only has two home games left before the All-Star Game. (Jeter pulled out of that today and so did A-Rod, as we noted on our previous post). The Rays did not agree to a doubleheader on Saturday like the Yankees wanted so the game will be made up later in the season.

The teams thus play Saturday and Sunday afternoons. If Jeter doesn't get two hits, he'll pick up the chase again next Thursday in Toronto. Bet there will be a ton of Yankees fans there if that's the case.

---Mike Harrington

Jeter and A-Rod both out of all-star game

Derek Jeter is two hits away from 3,000 but there is breaking news coming from Yankees camp prior to tonight's game against the Rays -- Jeter is not going to the All-Star Game.

The shortstop has apparently just told reporters gathered for what's now a daily pregame press conference on the road to 3,000 that he pulled himself from the game for precautionary reasons in the wake of his calf injury. Jeter is 4 for 18 at the plate since sitting out 18 games with the injury.

Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, is not in tonight's lineup and is apparently headed for an MRI on his injured knee. When I was in Cleveland Wednesday night, A-Rod's gait was clearly not right. He didn't run well to first base and didn't run well in foul territory after a popup. Something tells me he's going to join Jeter and Mariano Rivera in begging off the trip to Phoenix as well. (5 p.m. update -- A-Rod has also pulled out as well)

Also not playing for the Yankees tonight is Nick Swisher, who pulled a quad last night while playing right field. The Yankees have lost four of five and have fallen behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Jeter's quest is proving to be a distraction.

---Mike Harrington

MLB HR Derby party starts Bisons' countdown as hosts of 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game

Monday night -- July 11, 2011 -- will mark the one-year mark for the countdown to the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game, which will be held July 11, 2012 in Coca-Cola Field. The giant signs advertising the game (and the Home Run Derby on July 9, 2012) have been hanging in the left-field corner for a few weeks.

To start the festivities, the Bisons will be hosting a watch party for MLB's Home Run Derby from Chase Field in Phoenix Monday night at 7. For a $5 donation to Team Gary, the fund to aid injured Buffalo police officer Gary Sengbusch, fans can watch the derby on the BisonsTV HD Board and will receive a free hot dog and Coca-Cola product, as well as chances to win prizes based on the result of the derby.

Fans will also have a chance to compete in the Bisons' Home Run Distance Challenge. Fans will get one swing off a tee at home plate with the longest hits winning prizes that include tickets to next year's Triple-A game. There will be live music from Tom Stahl and the Dangerfields from 7-8 as well as a cash bar at Pettibones Grille and open concession stands. 

In addition, the team will be opening sale of the Triple-A All-Star Game/Home Run Derby ticket packages and making merchandise available for the first time at the MLB Derby watch party.

The 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game will be a signature element of Coca-Cola Field's 25th anniversary season. The first Triple-A game was held in Buffalo on July 13, 1988. in front of a sellout crowd of 19,500.

---Mike Harrington

Selig on The Boss: 'We were allies and friends'

Commissioner Bud Selig has issued his statement on the death of George Steinbrenner, calling the late Yankees owner "a giant of the game."

MLB is reportedly planning a press conference featuring Derek Jeter and other Yankees prior to tonight's All-Star Game in Anaheim and will have a moment of silence for Steinbrenner. Tributes continue to pour in on Steinbrenner's death, rounded up in this blog post from the New York Daily News that includes the words of Yogi Berra.

---Mike Harrington

A word on the HR Derby

The big boppers go for the fences in Anaheim tonight and it's hard to say how much people are into this event anymore. I've been to five of them and -- save for Josh Hamilton's incredible showing two years ago at old Yankee Stadium -- they have generally been snore-inducers.

They go on too long (do we really need 10 outs in the first round?), too many guys either take too many pitches or do very little when they swing, and many of the top sluggers are shying away from the thing for fear of injury or ruining their swing for the rest of the season.

ESPN always gets great ratings for it, usually better than most games. And there's a huge corporate sale of tickets in conjunction with Tuesday's game. So I doubt it's going away. But it has the feel of the NBA Slam Dunk contest. It's a great idea whose time might be over. 

---Mike Harrington

Former Bisons making impact

Tim Wakefield and Victor Martinez were the only ex-Bisons in uniform for the All-Star Game Tuesday night in St. Louis but as my column in Wednesday's sports section points out, there were several other Bisons having decent seasons. Two in particular (Russell Branyan and Marco Scutaro) had a case to be at Busch Stadium.

Take our poll below and pick the best season being put up by a former member of the Herd.

---Mike Harrington


Home run letdown?

     Prince Fielder of the Brewers won Monday's Home Run Derby at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He hit one of his homers more than 500 feet, but there were no Josh Hamilton-like runs similar to last year.

     Did you think the Home Run Derby has lost a bit of its edge? Is it still fun to watch? Let us know what you think.

Time to pick the all-stars

You can see the All-Star selection show Sunday at 1 on TBS and fans will then be told the candidates for the final roster spot on each team, which will be selected via an online vote.

In Sunday's Inside Baseball column, I make my picks. Some of them, obviously, won't match the fans choices (no Derek Jeter here), so we'll have some points to argue. Here's the recap of my choices for starters:

American League

1B:  Justin Morneau. 2B: Ian Kinsler. 3B: Evan Longoria. SS: Marco Scutaro.

OF: Jason Bay, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter.

C: Joe Mauer

National League

1B: Albert Pujols. 2B: Chase Utley. 3B: David Wright. SS: Hanley Ramirez.

OF: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Braun, Brad Hawpe.

C: Yadier Molina.

What do you think? Where did I go wrong? Have your say in the comments section.

---Mike Harrington


That's a wrap

NEW YORK -- Oh, where to start? Longest All-Star Game in time and innings. Sixty-three players. Even the latest media shuttle ride through the Bronx, stretching past 3 a.m. You should try it sometime. Yikes. Anyway, be sure to read our Web site for a full report on the game, including comments from both clubhouses.

I started the day on a high with the meeting with the Hall of Famers and ended it on the same high from the game. Work wise, not so good. Total meltdown of Internet access in right field. Could barely keep it going for more than five minutes at a time. No way to live blog. What a shame. Imagine how long that one would have been??!!

Here's some random thoughts I scribbled down:

---Mariano Rivera's entrance was sensational. You hear that gong from Enter Sandman and the place erupts. I've seen it many times in the postseason and it's always one of the most electric things you'll experience in any ballpark.

---Yankee PA announcer Jim Hall had a brutal week. Bad pronunciations and wrong guys hitting in the Futures Game. More mistakes in the All-Star Game. Said Corey Hart was hitting when it was Ryan Braun. Said Dioner Navarro was pinch-hitting for Dustin Pedroia when he was hitting for Jason Varitek. In the 10th, he announced Russell Martin was hitting when Nate McLouth went to the dugout to get a new bat after he broke one. Brutal.

Dude, pay attention and keep your scorecard better. No Bob Sheppard.

---Lots of empties in the box seats when the game went extra innings. Clearly out-of-town MLB corporate types. No way that happens in a Yankees game.

---I'm told the wireless was working fine in the basement work room. But there was no way I was coming here for this event and watching it on a TV in a basement bunker. Can't hold that against me, can you?

----The Yankee Stadium grounds crew dances to the "YMCA" every night in the fifth or sixth. They were joined on the first-base line this time by the Village People.

----Even with all the commercials on Fox, we played 4 1/2 innings in just 71 minutes. Little did we know what we were in for.

---Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex in the City" fame got plenty of laughs during an on-field discussion of baseball's contributions to the fight against cancer as she stood next to Bud Selig and called him "Commissioner SELL-ig.''

===The right-field bleacherites do a roll call of each Yankee at their defensive position in the top of the first at every game. I was wondering how they were going to handle this one. Answer: They acknowledged only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and then did a "Bob-by Mur-cer, Bob-by Mur-cer'' salute to the late Yankees outfielder who died Saturday. Nice.

---There was a commotion in the fourth inning in the bleachers with, um, a rather hefty man being pulled away from another fan by police. Chanted the bleacherites: "Eat a sal-ad, Eat a sal-ad.'' Cracked up the whole right-field press box. And we needed a laugh through our Internet access misery.

---The bleacherites were all over Florida's Dan Uggla as he started booting the ball everywhere. Their best efforts: "Hit the ball to Ug-gla, hit the ball to Ug-gla." That was followed by "Trip-le-A, Trip-le-A" and "Al-bu-quer-que, Al-bu-quer-que."

---A-Rod left the ballpark after the fifth inning when he was pulled. Jeter stayed in the dugout for all 15 and talked to the media afterward. A-Rod's departure from the game -- a nice in-game gesture from Terry Francona -- was hardly noticed. Jeter got wild applause. So did Rivera. The fans cheered for A-Rod I think because they felt they had to.

---And now, since I had to listen to it about 300 times the last three days, you can close the All-Star blog the way they they wrap up every Yankees game. Take it away, Ol' Blue Eyes.

(And excuse the pictures from the family-I-don't-know-but-did-a-great-YouTube-job).

---Mike Harrington

Live from New York: All-star pregame show

NEW YORK -- Greetings from Yankee Stadium as we get set for the 79th All-Star Game. The official Fox coverage comes on the air in about 10 minutes but don't look for a first pitch much before 8:40 or 8:45 because there's going to be a huge ceremony in celebration of Yankee Stadium featuring more than 40 living Hall of Famers.

We'll try to keep you updated on some of what's going on here and also have a live blog on the game. That's the plan. Keep your fingers crossed that the wireless Internet here in the right field press box doesn't conk out.

---Mike Harrington

8:27 p.m. We will try for some live blogging tonight. After a 30-minute outage that lasted through the entire opening ceremony, we harbor no guarantees. Technologically speaking, it's time to bulldoze this place.

7:52 p.m.: Nice video tribute to late Buffalo native Tim Russert is greeted with applause. His wife, Maureen Orth, and son Luke are introduced behind the plate.

7:50 p.m.: There is a giant tent in center field behind the fence, ostensibly to house the HOFs before they hit the field. Red, white and blue starts are being painted in the infield dirt, as well as a section in the grass just behind second base. This ceremony should be akin to the one in 1999, when the current all-stars all met Ted Williams on the Fenway Park mound, and like last year's in San Francisco, when they greeted Willie Mays in center field. How about a home plate meeting with Yogi Berra?

Great views of Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK -- has put together a fabulous virtual reality section with views from different parts of Yankee Stadium. Check out the 360-degree view from the subway ramp, an entrance gate and the press box.

And be sure to go to the view marked "outside clubhouse ramp." I'm typing this right now in a room maybe 50 yards down the hall from that spot outside the Yankees clubhouse. Look how narrow the hall is. That's it, folks. You follow the blue line on the floor through the basement maze to know you're going toward the Yankees clubhouse (a red line takes you to the visitors). Look down the ramp the Yankees take into their dugout with the famous Joe DiMaggio quote hanging from the ceiling. That's how the media gets on the field too. Quite a scene.

---Mike Harrington

Selig: Replay getting closer

NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig held a 45-minute question-and-answer session today during the Baseball Writers Association of America's annual All-Star luncheon meeting and, as usual, no subject was off limits. As far as controversies go, this chat paled in comparision to the 6,000 Barry Bonds question Selig got last year in San Francisco.

One of the key points he made: Instant replay may be coming, and it may be here before the postseason.

"We are looking at it intensely," Selig said. "No decision has been made but if it occurs, it will be in a very limited form. Once we're convinced the bugs are out, it will come quickly. Is there a chance it could be before the postseason? The answer is yes, there is a chance. But we've got work to be done."

Replay is going to be focused on determining home run balls (e.g. fair or foul, out of the park or in play). The bugs I'm sure refer to making sure every park has the right high-quality cameras to capture the areas by the foul poles and the outfield fences. An overdue move. Umpires have blown too many of these calls in the past, especially this year.

---Mike Harrington

Hall of an assignment

NEW YORK -- I've interviewed a lot of big-name athletes in the last 15 years and it takes a whole lot to wow a sportswriter but I have NEVER spent 40 minutes feeling as blown away as I just did.

More than 40 living Hall of Famers are about to be trotted down Sixth Avenue for a red carpet parade to kickoff today's All-Star festivities but first they were herded into a room at the Hotel Intercontinental to talk to us.

In honor of Phil Rizzuto: Holy cow, what an assignment! Each Hall of Famer was at a table in front of a replica of their Hall plaque. I had to take two minutes to walk around and check out the scene before figuring out who to approach first.

Amazing. So I thought about last night's Home Run Derby and went right to Hank Aaron's table. And this was no mob scene like yesterday's player availability. You could walk right up to them and only have maybe one or two other reporters with them (WHERE WAS THE REST OF THE MEDIA HORDE? FOOLS).

Aaron was great, as wide-eyed as we all are about Josh Hamilton's performance. I moved on and it just went from there.

Dave Winfield. Tony Gwynn, Tommy Lasorda ("Asking my best memory here is tough because you see so many things. It's like saying, "What's the best steak you've eaten? What's your best plate of pasta?" How the hell do I know? I eat every one of them."), 2008 inductee Goose Gossage ("I can't believe and I'll never comprehend not being able to walk into Yankee Stadium ever again"), Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs.

But like that, 40 minutes seemed like four. I would have loved to have talked hitting with Rod Carew or baserunning with Lou Brock. Home runs with Harmon Killebrew. Knuckleballs with Phil Niekro. Spitters with Gaylord Perry. Or the end for Tiger Stadium with Al Kaline. Strategy with Earl Weaver and Dick Williams. There was only so much time.

Disappointments? No Reggie. Would have liked to have asked him about Hamilton. No George Brett -- except for a gift shop sighting. Would have liked to have heard him reminisce as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Pine Tar Game.

The Astor Ballroom at the Hotel Intercontinental. That's one for the books. Don't tell the bosses at One News Plaza but I think I should just retire right now. When am I EVER going to do that again?

---Mike Harrington

In closing, Francona has a tough choice

NEW YORK -- You be Terry Francona for a minute. You've got a late lead in tonight's All-Star Game. What do you do to finish it?

Does Mariano Rivera have to get the ball in the ninth inning just because we're in Yankee Stadium? Especially since Francona also has big-league save leader Francisco Rodriguez and his own guy, Jonathan Papelbon, at his disposal.

What should Francona do?

---Mike Harrington

Is it possible to win when you lose?

HamendNEW YORK -- Wish I had asked that question. Some sharpie in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse just asked that of Josh Hamilton because there were no losers in the All-Star Home Run Derby. Not with the way Hamilton thrilled a packed ballpark and a national TV audience with a record 28 home runs in the first round even though Justin Morneau was the overall winner.

Hamilton agreed there was no loser. He told anyone who would listen Monday that soon after he became sober in late 2005 after years of drug and alcohol abuse, he had a dream about being in a derby in Yankee Stadium. Spooky.

"I said after the first round if I don't hit another ball out or don't win this, I'm not going to be disappointed," he said. "Obviously, it's human nature but we accomplished what we wanted. That dream I had sharing Christ with people, I didn't see how many home runs I hit in that dream or whether I was a winner or not. The Lord doesn't care about that. All he cares about is us glorifying him. I got that chance to tonight.''

Hamilton said he was pretty pooped in rounds two and three, trying to swing too hard rather than just relax like he did in round one. After those 28 taters, he went inside the Yankees clubhouse to sit down but David Ortiz came in and told him to get up and keep sweating.

Hamilton couldn't come close to the first round but it didn't matter. I'm usually a big thumbs-down to the derby. Not on this night.

"This is Yankee Stadium. I'm thinking [about] Babe Ruth, or Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio or whoever," Hamilton said. "To be here tonight and just see the way the crowd responded and to see my family up there being able to hear and experience that was the best thing I could ever ask for."

Hamilton was asked if he was going to watch ESPN's late-night replay.

"I rarely watch myself," Hamilton said. "But damn, I think that would be pretty cool."

Yep, the whole thing was pretty cool.

---Mike Harrington

(AP Photo: Hamilton embraces 71-year-old coach/pitcher Clay Council -- whose name is misspelled on his shirt -- as Justin Morneau looks on.)

It's Derby time

NEW YORK -- Greetings from Yankee Stadium and tonight's Home Run Derby. I have a GREAT view of the proceedings from the second deck in right field, which is far closer to the plate than right field in virtually any other ballpark. I'll keep you updated on the latest from the derby as well as some nuggets about the scene in the Bronx.

Some balls went into the upper deck in batting practice and it's weird that the famous overhang is above my head. We even hear the "clang" of the balls hitting the metal railings up there. Bizarre.

---Mike Harrington

Morneau10:50 p.m. With the crowd on its feet roaring and flashbulbs everywhere, Hamilton simply had nothing left. He grounds out for the last out, finishing with just three home runs in the final and drawing huge groans. Justin Morneau, left, is the winner. Pretty anticlimactic. In future years, no one will remember who won the thing. They'll only be talking about Hamilton.

10:47 p.m: Hold on. Maybe Hamilton is spent. Four outs and only one bomb so far.

10:40 p.m. This baby is basically over. Morneau had just five for the finals. The folks in the bleachers just broke out their "box seats [stink], box seats [stink]" chant. Gotta love it.

10:25 p.m: Hamilton stayed loose with four more home runs for a total of 32. He also nearly took out a bevy of photographers with a foul rocket behind first base. What are those clowns doing so close to the plate anyway? Jeesh.

10:20 p.m.: Braun hits six more for a total of 14. So it's Hamilton and Morneau in the finals. Hamilton doesn't need to swing but he's going to take a few to stay loose before the finals.

10:17 p.m.: A brief rant: I forgot to mention I HATE the leagues' batting practice jerseys, just a total marketing play by MLB to sell more merch. Guys should be in this thing wearing their own teams' duds. End of rant. Ryan Braun is still swinging.

10:07 p.m.: Morneau adds nine more for a total of 17, eliminating Berkman. Braun is next.

10:01 p.m.: Berkman opens the semis with six more, giving him a total of 14. Not much noise. The place is drained after Hamilton. Lot of empty seats. People needed a drink or a dog or a bathroom break. No one moved when Hamilton was up -- and he was up 28 minutes!

Ham 9:49 p.m.: It's over with Hamilton at 28, making outs on his last two swings. The place erupts and players from both teams stream to the plate to greet him as the flashbulbs explode. Gotta believe that's the moment we'll remember from this derby. Amazing to see this guy do this from where he's come. "I got chills,'' Hamilton told Erin Andrews about the crowd's chants.

So it's Hamilton, Morneau, Berkman and Braun in the semis. Uggla, Sizemore, Utley and Longoria are toast.

9:47 p.m: Hamilton is up to 28 -- smashing Bobby Abreu's record of 24 set in 2005 in Detroit. The whole crowd is on its feet roaring. And let's not forget that Hamilton's pitcher is 71 years old! Yep, 71. It's his former American Legion coach Clay Council, who helped him develop a swing at age 13.

Bradham9:42 p.m. Hamilton hits No. 21 and David Ortiz walks off in mock disgust. He's seen enough and the crowd is chanting "Bos-ton stinks, Bos-ton stinks." Or something like that. Texas teammate Milton Bradley comes out to wipe Hamilton down (left).

9:40 p.m. Now the whole place is chanting "Ham-il-ton, Ham-il-ton" as the Texas slugger takes the lead with a ridiculous 18 bombs, including one that clanks off an ad board on the facing of the loge maybe 40 feet to my left. A rocket. I would have ducked. Plus he just hit one in the black that a fan tried to grab as the cops chased him and he escaped down the runway.

9:28 p.m. Attendance is announced at 53,716 (media takes up some space). Josh Hamilton has hit two monsters -- including a 502-footer off the back wall above the bleachers that get the crowd on its feet roaring. I've never even seen a ball hit that sign in batting practice all the times I've been here. Wow. The bleacherites chant in unison, "Holy Bleep, Holy Bleep". Appropriate and hysterical.

9:20 p.m.: Milwaukee's Ryan Braun makes a late rush to finish with  seven home runs. The zanies in the right-field bleachers aren't impressed. They spend most of his at-bat chanting "booor-ing, boooor-ing." The top four go to the semifinals so Morneau, Berkman and Braun have clinched spots with Josh Hamilton left to hit.

9:11 p.m. As I'm watching Justin Morneau of Minnesota play pepper with the upper deck, the amazing thing is to watch the ball go into the seats at that distance while it's still rising. Pretty wild.

Morneau finished tied with Berkman for the lead with 8. So the standings are Morneau 8, Berkman 8, Uggla 6, Sizemore 6, Utley 5 and Longoria 3. Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton to come.

9:07 p.m.: Michael Kay interviews Mariano Rivera on the field and the crowd roars. When the interview ends, over the loudspeakers come a few bars of Rivera's entrance music, "Enter Sandman". The place explodes. Just imagine what it might sound like heading into the ninth inning tomorrow.

Berkman_29:02 p.m.: Houston's Lance Berkman, left, takes the lead with eight homers, recovering from a slow start. He pounded the upper deck, topped by a 476-footer, and became the first player to reach the black in center field. It felt like I was back in Las Vegas in '98 watching Berkman torment the Bisons in the Triple-A World Series.

8:57 p.m.: Berkman is up and the switch-hitter is batting left-handed to go for the short porch. He just launched a 459-footer above my head that's the longest so far.

8:48 p.m: Chase Utley finished with five home runs but he cranked one off the facing of the mezzanine where we're sitting in right. Guess you can get it here with a long drive to get it under the upper deck.

8:46 p.m.: Quick question -- What's the point of IT people if they look at people's laptops and have no idea what to do? Anyway, let's see how long this outage goes. Catching up, Grady Sizemore finished with six home runs (hooking too many foul to right field) and Tampa's Evan Longoria followed him by flaming out with only three as he was roundly booed (guess the Rays have arrived). He was also taunted from the bleachers with chants of "We want Ja-son, We want Ja-son'' by Yankee fans who would have preferred Giambi.

Before Longoria, Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez were honored as the top votegetters. A-Rod got a huge ovation. He should be out here swinging.

8:30 p.m.: Grady Sizemore smoked his first two for home runs -- including one over my head into the upper deck. Then he drilled a foul ball into the seats. Bet those folks weren't expecting that!

8:27 p.m.: Decent start for Florida's Dan Uggla with six home runs. Just noticed the "Hit it Here" sign to win a million bucks. It's well to the left of the linescore above the fabled bleachers in deep left-center field. There is no way -- no way -- anyone is coming close to that. Silly.

Ex-Bison Grady Sizemore of the Indians is up next taking aim at me in RF. That's ex-Herd skipper Jeff Datz pitching to him.

8:18 p.m: Michael Kay is interviewing Reggie Jackson on the field. What if Jackson had been in a derby: "I would have dropped them in the upper deck and won 'em all. No problem." Would it have hurt your swing? "I don't know but it wouldn't have bothered me." Hmmm. Is that a shot at A-Rod?

8:15 p.m.:  As soon as ESPN signed on, the wireless has started cutting in and out. Lots of frayed nerves out here.

8:14 p.m.: standing o and the obligatory "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" chants as Reggie Jackson goes to the mound to throw a first pitch with Derek Jeter catching. And the flashbulbs are popping. The crowd chants "Der-ek Je-ter, Der-ek Je-ter"

8:08 p.m: There introducing the lineups and flashbulbs are popping everywhere. But no Alex Rodriguez. He should have accepted the invitation.'s Jayson Stark took him to task yesterday and I agree. A-Rod should be here. No one would chant "Ma-donna" here. (OK, maybe not as many people would).

8:04 p.m.: Hey, I like that Yankee Stadium home run montage ESPN just showed. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Chris Chambliss, Reggie Jackson, Aaron Boone. I can see every spot where those balls landed. Awesome.

7:56 p.m: "Three Doors Down" just started a mini-concert on a stage behind second base. Shame on me, perhaps. Am I supposed to know who they are?

7:53 p.m.: Yankees announcer Michael Kay will be our in-house host on the field. Better than hearing Chris Berman scream all night you would think, except that Kay just called the derby "one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports." Huh? Um, no.

Of course, everyone in the press box was hoping for Erin Andrews. No dice there.

7:45 p.m.: The Red Sox and Mets are not going to get ANY respect here these two days. Mets third baseman David Wright got booed hard during a batting practice interview on the field with Yankees announcer John Sterling showed on the video board and that was expected. But they just introduced an all-star lineup of mascots and who got howling hoots? Mr. Met and Wally the Green Monster.

At least I was able to simply walk out here and not take an elevator ride with the mascots like I did last year. I saw that Mariner Moose on the field tonight and I had flashbacks of an antler to the head.

(Photos: Associated Press)

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |