I used to watch the old Home Run Derby series on ESPN and, until today, I thought MLB used to hold a mano-a-mano home run hitting contest every year that eventually morphed into the summer competition we know today. It was just one of those things I assumed as a kid and never looked into.
Turns out, Home Run Derby was just a television show that ran for six months in 1960 where the contestants squared off for cash prizes, although the series did inspire the modern home run derby which didn’t debut until 1985.
In the television series, the winner from each week would return the following week to face a new challenger. Mickey Mantle won the first three weeks, defeating Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Jackie Jensen. The fourth week, he faced Harmon Killebrew on January 30, 1960 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Yes, Wrigley Field in Los Angeles:
If you haven’t seen this before, I won’t spoil the outcome for you, but you can watch the rest of the series here.