- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

MILWAUKEE Sammy Sosa provided the most excitement. Jason Giambi provided the most home runs when it counted.

Giambi defeated Sosa 7-1 in the finals of last night's Home Run Derby, but Sosa was the real star after providing a spectacular display of power in the early rounds at Miller Park. He crushed 12 homers in the first round and finished with seven that traveled more than 500 feet before faltering in the finals.

The feat was all the more impressive considering Sosa hadn't swung a bat in four days after leaving the Chicago Cubs on Friday for personal reasons. Sosa's wife cut her right thumb and underwent surgery yesterday morning, preventing him from making it to Milwaukee until mid-afternoon.

Sosa wasn't just hitting home runs last night. He was annihilating them. First a 496-foot shot to the left-field upper deck. Then a 502-foot blast off an ad above the center-field scoreboard, followed by a 520-foot drive to left.

And finally a monstrous connection to left-center that sailed over Bernie Brewer's famed slide and through the giant outfield windows. The 524-foot homer was the first ball ever to be out of Miller Park and was the longest ever hit in the Home Run Derby (surpassing Mark McGwire's 510-foot shot at Fenway Park). Sosa hit one more through the panels in the semifinals.

"He's unbelievable," Giambi said. "He's a manimal. After the first round, I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' He's the best of the best."

Giambi hits weren't nearly as dramatic the longest of his 11 first-round homers traveled 461 feet, while Sosa's 12 blasts averaged 477. But the Yankees slugger was the most consistent from round-to-round and emerged with the title.

Giambi advanced to the finals by beating White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko 7-6 in sudden death. Sosa knocked off hometown favorite Richie Sexson of the Brewers 5-4.

Not all the contestants lived up to their billing. The top three home run hitters at the All-Star break Lance Berkman, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds combined for five homers in the first round. None came close to advancing.


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