Craig Maddox Wins American Association Home Run Derby
With the American Association taking a brief break to play their All-Star game Tuesday night, the mid-summer classic kicked off with the Home Run Derby on Monday night, and there could not have been a less likely winner than Craig Maddox. The Derby, played at Shaw Park, home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, featured some of the best home run hitters in the American Association, as well as some lesser knowns. Yet it was a line drive hitter that grabbed the crown.
Maddox has been a solid hitter all season, coming into the All-Star break with a .320 average and 32 RBI in 50 games. However, he hadn’t really shown a huge propensity for home runs, blasting only five so far this season. That didn’t seem to matter this night.
Maddox entered the finals against the Lincoln Saltdogs Ian Gac, who has 15 home runs so far this year, which is second in the American Association only to Laredo’s Travis Denker, but that did not matter this night. Maddox put on a hitting display, blasting 10 home runs in the finals, while Gac could only muster four.
Maddox seemed a little surprised but not shocked by his outburst. “Put a few hundred bucks up for prize money,” he quipped, “and it’s amazing what a minor league ballplayer can do.” Maddox also pointed out the irony of a Gary SouthShore RailCat winning the competition, considering that the team is 11th in the American Association in home runs, 49 behind the league leading Laredo Lemurs. Yet, it is a RailCat who grabs the crown.
Despite not winning the competition, Gac did not disappoint in anyway. The Saltdog slugger hit a mammoth blast in the finals that hit the very top of the lights in leftfield, then on his very next swing he lined a home run to dead center that hit off the scoreboard. The slugger showed he has serious power, despite not walking away with the top prize.
To win the competition Maddox had to beat some fairly serious competition. The RailCat beat out Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks’ Ronnie Bourquin, who has 12 home runs in 56 games, Henry Wrigley of the St. Paul Saints, who is third in the AA with 14, the Lemurs’ Devin Goodwin, tied for fifth with 13 and, of course, Gac.
While there were a great many talented sluggers in the Home Run Derby it is Craig Maddox who stands on top as the American Association champion. The roll he got on took him all the way to the top. Now it will be interesting to see if he can translate that display into bigger home run numbers at the plate during the rest of the season.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America