The 2022 MLB Home Run Derby is set to take place on Monday afternoon, July 18, in sunny Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Mets first baseman Pete Alonso will look to defend his crown, while he’ll be up against a legend on his way out (Albert Pujols) and a legend in the making in Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez.
While the big news of the day regarding Gonzaga’s baseball program is the trio of pitchers selected in the first three rounds of the 2022 MLB draft, today is a good day to remember that the Zags have churned out excellent hitters as well – including a participant in the 2005 Home Run Derby.
Jason Bay, who attended Gonzaga from 1996-1999, is one of the school’s greatest professional athletes of any era. He was a three-time MLB All-Star (2005, 2006, and 2009) and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2004 and the Silver Slugger Award in 2009.
In 2019, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, about a half decade after he wrapped up his playing career with 222 home runs and 754 RBI.
However, Bay’s lone appearance in the Home Run Derby wasn’t exactly one to write home about. In 2005, in Detroit, the All-Star festivities were celebrating the inaugural World Baseball Classic – so each of the eight HRD contestants represented a different home country.
Bay of course represented Canada, and he faced off against Venezuela’s Bobby Abreu, South Korea’s Hee-seop Choi, Netherlands’ Andruw Jones, Panama’s Carlos Lee, D.R.’s David Ortiz, Puerto Rico’s Ivan Rodriguez, and USA’s Mark Teixeira.
Unfortunately, Bay didn’t do much celebrating, as he was eliminated in the first round after failing to hit a single home run in the event. Detroit’s Comerica Park is not the most fun ballpark for a Home Run Derby, but you’d like to at least see a few baseballs leave the yard before heading back to the dugout.
Gonzaga’s successes on the baseball field have been primarily on the pitching mound – Bay notwithstanding – but they haven’t had an All-Star since his final appearance in 2009.
Gabriel Hughes, who was recently selected tenth overall in the 2022 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies, could be the one to break the streak, although with the way they have been churning out talent lately it is only a matter of time.
Hopefully the next Zag to participate in the Home Run Derby can do better than Bay did.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.