Derby victor Griffey bows only to fans Boos prompt him to enter

Palmeiro reaches 2nd round

July 07, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

DENVER -- Ken Griffey strolled to the plate yesterday with the bill of his cap spun to the back, an unintentional symbol of his turnaround regarding the home run derby. He said one thing and did another. And he did it better than anyone else.

After being booed by the Coors Field crowd for saying he wouldn't participate in the All-Star event, Griffey relented and got in the last word by defeating Cleveland's Jim Thome in the championship round.

Overcoming a slow start, Griffey led the field with eight homers in the first round, then hit eight more in the second to qualify for the final. Thome, who had seven homers in the first round and eight in the second, finished with only two in the third. Griffey hit No. 3 with two outs to spare.

Each player was allowed 10 outs in the first two rounds, and five in the final.

"I don't like to get booed and I don't think anybody does," Griffey said. "This is not a time to get booed. I didn't like it, but they wanted me in the home run competition, so I did it.

"I'm going to be a little worn out, but I've got part of tomorrow and Wednesday. Hopefully, I can be ready for the second half."

Asked earlier in the day what part of his game he takes the most pride in, Mark McGwire said batting average. Except for a 510-foot blast to center field, St. Louis' slugger looked more like a singles hitter than the majors' home run leader. He drove four balls into the seats in the first round and apologized to fans who were expecting a more memorable power display.

The Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro was a reluctant participant, but also a worthy one. He hit seven out to advance to the second round, along with Griffey, Thome and Colorado's Vinny Castilla.

"I tried to practice it in New York," Palmeiro had said earlier. "I was 0-for-what, 10 or 11? It goes against my whole approach to hitting. But heck, it's all in fun."

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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