Ryan Rua, of the Frisco Rough Riders, did his best to dispel the reputation of Dickey-Stephens Park as a pitcher's park as he hit 16 home runs in winning the Home Run Derby prior to the 2014 Texas League All-Star game.
The first participant in the contest, Rua hit one ball off of the giant scoreboard in left field and three other balls onto Willow Street beyond the scoreboard.
"That was a good round to start the night," said former Major Leaguer and Arkansas Traveler Rick Ankiel, who served as the honorary captain for the North Team during the derby. "He really set the bar pretty high."
Harold Riggins, of the Tulsa Drillers, was the second contestant in the Derby. He finished with four home runs, but did have the longest ball of the night, as he blasted his third home run over the net above the center field wall. The blast was estimated to travel nearly 460 feet.
Midland's Max Muncy was the second member of the South Team and he tied Rua in the first round with eight home runs.
"I am real proud of both of these guys," said Ryan Klesko, the former Major League All-Star who served as the honorary captain for the South Team about Rua and Muncy. "I just tried to help them relax and slow things down. Don't be in a rush. One of the hardest things for all of these guys was hitting without the batting shell. They hit with that thing around them each night, and getting used to it not being there is tough. My first time in one of these things I think I hit one. I stunk. These guys did great."
Cody Stanley, the Springfield Cardinal who was the MVP of the Texas League All-Star Game, managed one long ball during the Home Run Derby. He had the only home run in the game itself, which proved to be the game-winner.
Ankiel and Klesko each also took a turn at the plate for their respective teams. Ankiel, who played for the Travelers in 1999, finished with six home runs, while Klesko hit four.
Rua's eight home runs in the finals topped Muncy who finished with four.
"This was a great night," said the Amherst, Ohio native. "I had fun. The weather was perfect. The wind was blowing out. I was trying not to embarrass myself. The fans and everybody here made it a perfect night."
There were a number of targets placed throughout the field, with dollar amounts on them. If hit during the derby, the Arkansas Travelers would have donated the specified amount to the United Way. None of the targets were hit, but the Travelers will still make a donation in the amount of $1,100.
- travs.com -