CINCINNATI (AP) — Todd Frazier waited until the very last swing — three times, no less — to win the All-Star Home Run Derby in his home ballpark.
Pressure? Sure didn’t show it.
The Reds third baseman became only the second player to win the long-ball competition on his home field Monday night, topping Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson 15-14 with another late surge and one final, emphatic swing.
“No pressure here with these fans,” he said, after accepting the championship trophy to one more standing ovation.
Frazier joined the Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg for home-field homer titles — the Hall of Fame second baseman did it at Wrigley Field in 1990. After finishing second last year in Minneapolis, this one was as sweet as that winning swing.
“That pushed me a lot,” Frazier said. “I wanted to get back here. I’d been working in the offseason a little bit. I’m just glad it was in Cincinnati and they could enjoy it with me.”
Pederson was trying to become the first rookie since Wally Joyner in 1986 to win or share the title. His 14 homers in the final round matched the highest total to that point and left Frazier with a lot of ground to make up.
Frazier tied him with 11 seconds left in his 5-minute round and got another 30 seconds because he’d hit enough of them long enough to earn extra time. On the first pitch from brother Charles, Frazier puffed up his cheeks and exhaled as he hit one solidly, then mouthed the words “That’s gone” as the ball headed for the left field stands.
He won all three of his head-to-head matchups on his last swing, earlier beating Prince Fielder and Josh Donaldson.
Frazier was the favorite in his home ballpark, aiming to make it an All-Cincinnati All-Star event so far. Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber, a Reds fan who grew up in nearby Middletown, Ohio, was the MVP of the Futures Game on Sunday with a two-run triple.
The third baseman had been gearing up for the derby all season. He faded badly last year in Minneapolis, reaching the finals before losing to Yoenis Cespedes 9-1. He was so worn out that he could barely hit one, and planned to pace himself a bit better this time.
He hung in there and added to his lore for big home runs.
The Jersey boy was a member of the 1998 Toms River team that beat Japan for the Little League World Series championship. He had a homer among his four hits in the clinching game. Now, he’s got a derby title to go with it.
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