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Home-run hi-jinks: highlights from the Triple-A Home Run Derby


Goin’ yard at Coca-Cola Field

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

There’s probably not a cooler phrase in baseball than “laying the lumber,” but that’s just what six Triple-A sluggers and several local celebrities will do tonight at 7 at Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St., Buffalo.

Gates open for the event at 5 p.m. Tickets for the home run derby alone cost $15, but package options for the derby and the Triple-A All-Star Game run for $25. They’re available at the box office outside Coca-Cola Field or can be purchased online here.

Three International League sluggers—Buffalo’s Valentino Pascucci (13 HRs in 292 ABs), Charlotte’s Dan Johnson (21 HRs in 312 ABs) and Columbus’ Matt LaPorta (17 HRs in 247 ABs)—were chosen to represent the IL, while Oklahoma City’s Mike Hessman (27 HRs in 262 ABs), a former Bison, is joined by Round Rock’s Joey Butler (13 HRs in 311 ABs) and Tacoma’s Luis Antonio Jimenez (13 HRs in 283 ABs) to show off the Pacific Coast League. An individual champion will be crowned after three rounds of competition—complete details can be found here.

While the current-Bison-vs.-former-Bison allure of Pascucci vs. Hessman will certainly appeal to local baseball fans, the celebrity derby pits famous local athletes against each other. Here are those rosters:

Hunter’s Hope:

Jim Kelly (Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback), Joe DeLamielleure (former Bills offensive lineman), Fred Jackson (current Bills running back), Russ Brandon (Bills’ CEO)


Williamsville-born and current New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski, former vice chairman of the Indianapolis Colts Bill Polian, Nichols’ grad and TV star Nick Bakay and Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.

You have to think that Team Hunter’s Hope is the favorite, as we’re suspicious that Brandon has a violent swing and more than just line-drive power. Still, only one hitter from each team reaches the final round, so if Gronk unleashes his fearsome upper-cut, UNYTS could reign supreme.

TAGGED: buffalo bisons, coca-cola field, international league baseball, mike hessman, pacific coast league, triple-a all-star game, valentino pascucci

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  1. Ben Kirst July 09, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    I am giving Gronk 4:1 odds of winning. I also give Nick Bakay 4:1 odds of hitting a ball out of the infield. Tonight’s the big night!

    Ben Kirst's avatar