Clint Hurdle usually watches rather than pitches batting practice these days, but there was a time -- the 1999 Home Run Derby, in particular -- when he was in demand
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Somewhere in Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's vast collection of baseball memorabilia from decades in the game are two bats given to him from the finalists of the 1999 Home Run Derby.
They serve as much more permanent mementos than the ice pack he needed after throwing about 180 pitches to four of the 10 competitors that day at Boston's Fenway Park.
The Colorado Rockies hitting coach at the time, Hurdle attended the All-Star Game as Larry Walker's guest because Walker wanted Hurdle to pitch to him in the derby.
Walker was eliminated after the first round, hitting only two home runs.
"But, as I threw to Larry, figuring 'Man, that was something, I'm glad that's over,' Jeff Bagwell comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I don't have a guy, will you throw BP to me,' " Hurdle said.
He obliged, and Bagwell pounded five home runs, enough to advance to the second round.
Soon after, Jeromy Burnitz, whom Hurdle coached while in the New York Mets minor leagues, asked Hurdle if he could fill in for his designated pitcher, who was ill. After Burnitz, Ken Griffey Jr. asked Hurdle to pitch to him as well.
"We go to the second round, I have three of the four guys that are in that round," Hurdle said.
Griffey (10) and Burnitz (six) cracked enough home runs to advance to the final over Bagwell (one) and Mark McGwire (three). So Hurdle pitched the entire final as Griffey beat Burnitz, three home runs to two.
"I was there for two and a half hours," Hurdle said. "I threw the whole thing. I was dripping wet."
ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough announced to the crowd "Clint Hurdle's going to get credit for a complete game," according to a 1999 Sports Illustrated article.
He didn't. But he got a good story.
"Obviously I threw really good BP that day because three other guys asked," Hurdle said.