Morneau wins HR derby

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

NEW YORK -- On a memorable date in home-run history -- 7/14 -- Josh Hamilton won the crowd, but Justin Morneau won the annual all-star home run-derby last night.

The New Westminster, B.C., first baseman outslugged Hamilton 5-3 in the house that Babe Ruth and his 714 homers built before 53,716 fans.

Hamilton was purely Ruthian in the first round, hitting a record 28 homers, including going deep on 13 consecutive swings. His longest homer was estimated at 512 feet. Combined, his homers travelled 2.36 miles.

Morneau went first in the final and Hamilton couldn't catch him. And then Morneau went perfectly Canadian with his humility.

"I was lucky things were re-set after the first two rounds," Morneau told the crowd. "This was his show, he did a good job and deserved to win it. That was one of the best performances I have ever seen.

"I was lucky to be out there."

Morneau hit 22 homers in all, while Hamilton had 35. Morneau hit eight homers in the first round and nine in the second to eliminate Houston's Lance Berkman 17-14.

Hamilton broke Bobby Abreu's mark -- 24 home runs in the first round in 2005 at Comerica Park in Detroit. Hamilton ousted Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers 32-14.

"A lot of people wish they can hit a golf ball as far Josh can hit the baseball," said Morneau.

For the final, both sluggers started at zero. Hamilton had three with five outs remaining. Fans cheered him on unsuccessfully.

"When the crowd gets loud like that it's all worth it," Hamilton said. "You don't feel tired but obviously you are. You get tired and you try to do too much I think that's what happened."

Dan Uggla of the Florida Marlins and Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians hit six apiece in the first round. Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies had five and Evan Longoria, with the Tampa Bay Rays, three.

While Morneau won, make no mistake, this was Hamilton's night.

The 53,716 at Yankee Stadium chanted Hamilton's name over and over. Fellow players cheered in awe. Teammate Milton Bradley put an arm around him at home plate and snapped a picture.

The Bambinoesque fireworks show is the latest chapter in Hamilton's inspiring recovery from a drug addiction so severe that he once described himself as "a dead man walking."

The first overall pick in 1999, Hamilton fell into a spiral and out of baseball for years before getting himself straight. He returned to the minors in 2006, spent last season with the Cincinnati Reds and has blossomed into a superstar this year with the Rangers.

To make the story even better, Hamilton invited 71-year-old high school coach Clay Counsil to throw him batting practice, as a reward for all the BP he has thrown to countless kids over the years.

"You know, he's never expected anything back from anybody," Hamilton said earlier in the day.

"Probably never really got a lot of thank-yous for doing it, either."

Hamilton wore him out.

He saw 54 pitches in that first round.

The 28 homers he hit in that round put him 10th in derby history and was five more than the three other semifinalists tallied in the opening round.

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ALL-STAR STARTING LINEUPS

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, SS

2. Chase Utley, Phillies, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, Astros 1B

4. Albert Pujols, Cardinals DH

5. Chipper Jones, Braves, 3B

6. Matt Holliday, Rockies RF

7. Ryan Braun, Brewers, LF

8. Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs, CF

9. Geovany Soto, Cubs, C

RHP Ben Sheets, Brewers

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, CF

2. Derek Jeters, Yankees, SS

3. Josh Hamilton, Rangers, RF

4. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 3B

5. Manny Ramirez, Red Sox, LF

6. Milton Bradley, Rangers, DH

7. Kevin Youkalis, Red Sox, 1B

8. Joe Mauer, Twins, C

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 2B

LHP Cliff Lee, Indians


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