Despite this being his rookie season, LA Dodgers First baseman Cody Bellinger has already established himself as one of the best hitters in baseball. With 25 home runs, he is only one behind the National League leader despite spending the first three weeks of the season in the minors. Unsurprisingly, Bellinger’s massive swing earned him a spot in tonight’s Home Run Derby at Marlins Park in Miami. But before Bellinger agreed to participate, he needed to make sure his preferred pitcher was available to take the mound. His favorite pitcher just happens to be his dad, Clay, a former third baseman for the Yankees who now works as a firefighter in Arizona.
Cody isn’t alone in his preference to have his old man on the mound. Over the past couple years, dads have slowly but surely become a regular part of the Home Run Derby, with some of the game’s top hitters opting to have their pops on the mound. Superstar second baseman Robinson Cano has had his father, Jose, as his Derby pitcher on four separate occasions, including when Cano won the event in 2011.
Bryce Harper has been one of the most dominant power hitters in baseball over the last couple of years, and each time he has been invited to the Derby he has brought along his dad, Ron. When Ron couldn’t pitch in 2015 thanks to a recent surgery, Bryce declined to participate. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant joined this club in 2015 when he selected his dad Mike to be his pitcher.
Just like PED scandals and low TV ratings, the father-son combo at the Home Run Derby has become a staple in modern baseball. It’s not entirely clear when this tradition started, but it’s likely because hitters are simply comfortable with their dads throwing it over the plate because they spent years doing that very activity in backyards and ballparks throughout their youth. But whatever the case, it’s become very clear that it’s not going away anytime soon. And maybe this year, Clay can help his son become the Home Run Derby champion.