DENVER — Before Pete Alonso won his second straight Home Run Derby title, Kansas City Royals fans got to watch catcher Salvador Perez make history Monday night.
Perez faced off with the New York Mets’ first baseman in the first round where the Royals’ beloved catcher hit 28 homers — his longest at 491 feet — to Alonso’s 35.
Although he technically fell short, Perez actually tied for the third-most homers in the first round, and he destroyed former teammate Mike Moustakas’ 10 home run total from 2017.
Many Royals fans on social media weren’t happy that Salvy didn’t get the recognition they felt he deserved as broadcasters interviewed Alonso throughout most of Perez’s at-bat. Fans also argued he would have moved on in the derby had the seeding or format been different.
Still, Perez has something to be proud of from his night at the 2021 Home Run Derby. He set a new record.
The seven-time All-Star’s 28 first round home runs are the most ever by a catcher in a Home Run Derby.
In the end, Alonso danced to his second straight Home Run Derby title, besting Shohei Ohtani, Trey Mancini and Juan Soto on a night of record long balls in the thin Rocky Mountain air of Coors Field.
The Mets first baseman hit 74 total home runs and beat Mancini 23-22 in the final round Monday, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) in winning consecutive titles.
Batting second, Alonso trailed 22-17 after the first two minutes of the final round, then hit six homers on six swings over the first 28 seconds of his final minute.
Mancini, who returned this season from cancer treatment, was the sentimental favorite, while Alonso was the most animated of the eight sluggers as the longball competition returned after a one-year absence caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
With custom bats in the Mets’ royal blue and orange, and matching shoes and batting gloves, Alonso was a human bobblehead, nodding on beat in the batter’s box as he stepped out and danced. He motioned with his arms to whip up fans during a timeout.
New York’s 26-year-old first baseman has a chance to match Griffey, who also win in 1994, as the only three-time winner.
Alonso hit a first-round record 35 dingers, seven more than Josh Hamilton in 2008 at the original Yankee Stadium, and topped Pérez with 28. Alonso, batting second, beat Soto 16-15 in the second round. Alonso’s longest drive of the night traveled 514 feet.
Mancini missed the 2020 season while undergoing chemotherapy for stage 3 colon cancer, treatment he finished last Sept. 21 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The 29-year-old Baltimore Orioles first baseman hit .256 with 16 homers and 55 RBIs going into the All-Star break. His oncologist, Dr. Nilo Azad, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Camden Yards before the Orioles’ hosted the Chicago White Sox last Friday night.
Soto thrilled the crowd of 49,048 with a 520-foot homer, the longest derby drive in the Statcast era, topping 513 feet the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge in 2017 at Miami. Before Statcast, the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa was said to have hit one 524 feet at Milwaukee in 2002, clearing Bernie Brewer’s slide.
Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels sensation set to start on the mound and hit leadoff as designated hitter for the American League in the All-Star Game, started slowly but forced two rounds of tiebreakers with Soto before losing 31-28 in the second round.
They were tied 22-all after regulation and 28 apiece following the first tiebreaker. Soto homered on all three swings of the next tiebreak, and Ohtani grounded out on his first swing.
Mancini won the first round 24-23 over Oakland’s Matt Olson, who hit a deep foul on his final swing.
“He’s a good dude,” Olson said. “To be able to battle the way he battled and come back and perform the way he has this year says a lot about him, his grit and his toughness.”
Story defeated Texas’ Joey Gallo 20-19 when Gallo popped out on his last swing.
“It is tiring, for sure, but it was a lot of fun for the first time,” Gallo said.
Mancini knocked out Story 13-12 in the second round, hitting second and advancing with a drive to center.