With two-time defending champion Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays watching from the sidelines, Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis “Sweet Lew” Brinson stepped up and carted off the individual title at the 3rd Annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby at Montagu Foreshore on Saturday. Brinson hit 13 home runs in the final to out-slug Bahamian professional baseball player Lucius Fox of the Tampa Bay Rays. Once again, the event was coordinated by Fox and his friend and rival, Todd Isaacs Jr., another Bahamian professional baseball player. Isaacs plays in the Colorado Rockies system.
Brinson, who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hit first in the final, using his towering frame to his advantage, hitting a whopping 13 home runs. The precision and power that he hit with had spectators’ jaws opened in amazement.
Fox had to hit after that performance. The Bahamian retired during his swings after he realized that he could not tie or surpass Brinson’s total.
“I was focused this year,” Brinson said. “I told them that I wasn’t coming for foolishness this year. I wanted to take the crown and I was prepared. I worked hard this offseason and my swing feels good.”
Bichette said he plans to come back to the derby in the future, participating again.
“I had a lot going on this year – my first season in the majors. In the future, I will definitely come back and hit again but I am just excited to watch these guys do it,” Bichette said.
Bichette said a lot of homers were hit and he had no idea who was going to win.
After finishing in the top eight in the derby’s team competition with eight home runs, Brinson advanced to the semifinals.
Joining Brinson and Fox in the semifinals were Bahamian Warren Saunders (New York Mets), Josh Palacios (Blue Jays), Bahamian Zion Bannister (Texas Rangers), Will Benson (Cleveland Indians), Bahamian Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm (Miami Marlins) and Isaacs.
Saunders, who finished with 12 home runs in the first round, was up first. He could not reciprocate or improve his first-round performance as he hit nine home runs.
Palacios was second and had some great swings and ended with 10 homers – one more than Saunders – to have the top score at that time.
Bannister and Benson hit after Palacios. They both could not get past Palacios as they registered 10 home runs apiece.
Up next after Benson was Chisholm, a favorite to win the competition, but he was unable to get past eight home runs.
Brinson was up next. He put on a show for the fans as he swung 11 home runs to take the lead in that round and have a great shot of advancing to the final.
Fox batted after Brinson – a tall order, but the Rays shortstop was fearless at the plate. He fed off the crowd’s support, finishing with 11 home runs.
With only Isaacs remaining to bat, it meant that if he scored above 11, Fox and Brinson needed a playoff to see who would advance to the final.
That playoff never came as Isaacs joined Palacios, Bannister and Benson with 10 home runs, setting up the Brinson and Fox final.
Newly crowned champion Brinson said: “It was a great experience. I told Todd and Lucius that they are moving up with this event every year. It is getting better and better and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Brinson added that he has the same plan next year – to come and dominate.
The Don’t Blink Home Run Derby has become an event that baseball fans look forward to each year, coming out in droves to support the sport of baseball in The Bahamas.