An Evening of Champions
If you like monstrous home runs, last night's Home Run Derby was a fun night for you. If you like stories about true life champions, well then you really enjoyed the show. New York Mets' Pete Alonso and Baltimore Orioles' Trey Mancini provided all of the athletic theatrics and moon shot home runs that any fan could ask for plus a story line that was worth the price of admission.
Angels two way superstar, Shohei Ohtani was supposed to steal the show. That didn't happen. Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers was a popular favorite to win the competition. A Gallo run didn't happen either.
In the end, it was last year's champion "the Polar Bear," Pete Alonso, the mammoth brute with a boyish enthusiasm for the game that endears even his rivals with his brash antics, going up against a true champion of life. A person that persevered the darkest moments of life and death that no trophy could mark the triumph he achieved.
In April of last year, Trey Mancini was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. He had surgery to have a tumor removed. He was in the finals of the Home Run Derby last night, 15 months later. Mancini went into the 2021 All Star break with 16 home runs and 55 RBI's. No matter what happened last night, Trey Mancini had already won.
The Baltimore Orioles first baseman hit behemoth home runs all night long and he even had Mets fans rooting for him to prevail. His ear to ear grin and apparent joy for life made him easy to root for beyond his story. Yes, Pete Alonso deservedly went home with the Home Run Derby Trophy, necklace and the $1 million dollars but the real winner last night was anyone watching that didn't know the story of Trey Mancini.
Sometimes sports will introduce us to people we wouldn't normally be aware of; Trey Mancini is one of those people. Mancini fought the ultimate battle. He never gave in nor gave up. Mancini refused to let cancer stand in the way of his dream to play baseball. He fought and will continue to fight. There are millions of people out there fighting cancer every day, they just aren't in a Home Run Derby on ESPN. They should be applauded just the same.
Trey Mancini, like every cancer survivor, is a true a champion each and every day.