Gonzo talks strategy on his 2001 HR Derby win
By Josh Greene
2011 not only marks the D-backs’ 10-year anniversary of their 2001 World Championship club, it’s also the 10th anniversary of the franchise’s first-ever Home Run Derby win.
Thank you, Luis Gonzalez.
“You want to just get one (homer),” said Gonzo on his gameplan heading into the 2001 contest in Seattle. “My first three or four swings, being a left-handed hitter, I hooked balls on the other side of the first-base line. I kept telling myself, ‘Okay, let me slow things down and just try to use the middle of the field.’ You’re excited enough to where you’re going to pull the ball anyway. Then I finally got one, and then I started getting into a groove after that. It was so much easier after that to just do it.”
Gonzo hammered a total of 16 longballs in his lone Derby appearance, outdueling runner-up and defending champ, Sammy Sosa. And the performance was no fluke. The five-time All-Star went on to set a D-backs franchise record with 57 home runs in the regular season.
“When you get selected or chosen to be in a contest like that, you’re first thought is, ‘Just let me get one homer.’ I was able to take (my batting practice pitcher) Jeff Motuzas, who still throws BP here. He threw to me every single day that I was here as a Diamondback. I think what people fail to realize is how important those guys are. They’re just as important as a guy going up to the plate to hit. So it was a comfort factor for me going up there and being up at the plate with him.
“Once they role that cage away and the security blanket is gone, you get to go up there and people want to see you hit balls as far as you can. To have an opportunity to get in the Home Run Derby and then to actually win it, it was pretty memorable opportunity.”