View some select shots of the Buccaneer's quarterbacks.
The MLB's Home Run Derby will take place Monday night at San Diego's PETCO Park, site of Tuesday's All-Star Game. Padres outfielder Wil Myers will be the fan favorite as he tries to become the second straight hometown player to capture the Derby title. Last year, it was then-Reds third baseman Todd Frazier ruling the contest in front of an adoring Cincinnati crowd; now a member of the White Sox, Frazier is back to defend his crown. Seattle's Robinson Cano is also a returning champ (2013), and Florida's Giancarlo Stanton, who routinely hits 450-foot bombs, has to be considered a strong favorite as well.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers once drafted a player who would later take part in MLB's most famous round of batting practice. Auburn two-sports star Bo Jackson was the first overall pick of the 1986 draft, but he elected to play baseball instead of coming to Tampa, only later coming back to the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Jackson hit one out in the 1989 Home Run Derby; that's not as bad as it sounds, as the eight participants combined to blast only 14 taters. By contrast, Frazier hit 15 in the final round alone last year.
Jackson never was a Buccaneer, but he's not the only player in the team's four-decade history that might be able to hold his own in a home run contest. In honor of the upcoming dinger fest on Monday night, we're going to try to put together a squad of Buccaneers who would (we hope) do the team proud in a Home Run Derby.
Since the current iteration of the Derby includes eight contestants, we'll shoot for a roster of eight Bucs. And in the spirit of MLB's all-star week, which by rule has to include at least one player from every team, we're going to strive to be inclusive. That means both current and former Buccaneers, representatives from offense and defense, and even some little guys to balance the big bashers. In each case, we're assuming we get the player at his athletic prime. And while we have seen a few of these players on the diamond, for the most part this is going to be guesswork.
Without further ado, your Tampa Bay Buccaneers Home Run Derby Team!
1. Mike Alstott
This was our no-brainer first-round pick. Mike Alstott used to hold an annual charity softball game, and he was known as a power-hitter. No surprise there. He played baseball as well as football in high school in Joliet. Alstott also strikes us the type of fun-loving competitor who would embrace the joy of a home run derby and just swing from his heels. Oh, and by the way, in 2006 he teamed with Wade Boggs to win the home run contest at a Legends of Baseball All-Star Game in Clearwater.
2. Joey Galloway
We thought we'd throw you a curveball right out of the gate (something that is not recommended for Home Run Derby pitchers). Joey Galloway, the 195-pound speed-demon wide receiver? Yes, Joey Galloway, and yes we know this is not a Stolen Base Derby. Full disclosure: We have actually seen Mr. Galloway in action on a softball diamond, and he isn't the player you would expect. If you drafted the former Buc deep threat for your softball team, you probably wouldn't expect to get, well, a deep threat. He would seem to profile as a fleet centerfielder who pounded the ball into the dirt and beat out ground balls. Nope. A nifty second baseman, Galloway liked to swing for the fences every chance that he got. He may not have been a prolific home run hitter, but he certainly tried to be, and with the hardball replacing the softball, he might have a shot.
3. Jameis Winston
During his two years as a star quarterback at Florida State, Jameis Winston also was a member of the Seminoles baseball team, and not just a benchwarmer. Primarily a relief pitcher with a career 1.94 ERA over 60.1 innings, Winston also played the outfield, racking up 158 at-bats in 2013 and 2014 combined. Now, we must admit that the Buccaneer QB didn't exactly put up huge numbers at the plate, and none of his 33 career collegiate hits cleared the fence. However, he was a very good hitter at the prep level, where he was once ranked as the top high school baseball player in all of Alabama by one scouting source. According to his FSU biography, Winston once blasted seven homers during his prep team's run to the state semifinals. With his own personal pitcher serving it up in the derby, we think Winston could recapture that magic.
4. John Lynch
Another two-way collegiate star, Lynch was actually drafted higher as a baseball player than as a football player when his days at Stanford were over. The Marlins made him a second-round pick based largely on his 95-mph fastball, and he actually threw the first pitch in that organization's history. The Buccaneers drafted Lynch in the third round in 1993 after he convinced Head Coach Sam Wyche that his true passion was on the gridiron. Lynch only made two plate appearances during his time in the minors, but he got to the plate more frequently at Stanford and showed occasional power. He got just five at-bats as a freshman but managed to hit one out, and then he blasted five more in 129 bats in 1992. That's enough promise for us to put him on the squad. And, seriously, isn't Lynch known as the ultimate "hard-hitter" in Buccaneer history?
5. Warren Sapp
Here's another gridiron star we've had the pleasure of also seeing on the baseball diamond. And, as was the case with Galloway, the type of player Warren Sapp is in the national pastime might surprise you. Obviously, Sapp was a huge and powerful man on the football field, and he had to be strong in order to do battle with offensive linemen snap after snap. But what made Sapp a transcendent player (and eventual Hall of Famer) was that he was also almost unfairly nimble. This innate athleticism came through on the diamond as well in the form of effortless diving stops on the infield while playing in charity games for the Bucs. We're not sure if he hit any balls over the fence in those games, but with Warren Sapp, accomplishing something in sports was basically just a matter of deciding to do it. We would happily take him on our Home Run Derby team and watch him rise to the occasion.
6. Andrew DePaola
Hey, you didn't think we were going to just load up the team with Super Bowl-era cornerstone players, did you? Let's give some love to the specialists, too, in this case in the form of current long-snapper Andrew DePaola, whose first sports passion was baseball. (We believe that another former long-snapper and long-time Buccaneer great, tight end Dave Moore, is an accomplished softball player as well, but we wanted to get another member of the 2016 squad on our team.) DePaola was an All-Metro baseball selection as a prep senior in Parkton, Maryland, hitting .527 and also excelling on the mound. More specific prep baseball stats from the mid-2000s aren't exactly easy to scare up, so we're just going to assume that some of those hits were of the over-the-fence variety. And anyway, in order to have a shot at playing in the NFL, DePaola added a lot of muscle to his frame and is now a very solid 6-2, 230. That probably upped his power potential on the diamond; we'd like to find out.
7. Doug Williams
All we know about Doug Williams on the diamond is that his early Buccaneer bios say he was "an outstanding baseball pitcher" in high school. But do you know who many of the best high school hitters are? Yep, the ones who are also the best pitchers, not to mention star players in football and basketball as well. We're willing to bet Williams touched 'em all a few times for Chaneyville High. I mean, we are talking a very big and powerful man here. In high school, he was essentially bigger than all of his offensive linemen, and he was listed in his Buc bios at 6-4 and 220 pounds. And finally, Williams does have just a wee bit of history as a performer who can rise to the occasion and put up big numbers under the brightest spotlight. His four touchdown passes in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII led Washington to a 42-10 victory over Denver.
8. Jimmie Giles
That's five members of the Buccaneers' Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium on our Derby team (including John Lynch, who will be inducted this season). It's nice to have a little name recognition to go with our baseball prowess. Giles was ahead of his time as an NFL tight end, a big man who could stretch the field and was a legitimate deep ball threat. He would have fit in well in the era of Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski. We would probably take Giles on our team just on the promise of that athleticism, but we've got the added knowledge that he also played professional baseball. In fact, Giles played baseball at Alcorn State first before eventually joining the football team, and that led to the Dodgers picking him in the 12th round in 1976 as an outfielder. As a child, Giles met Red Sox star George Scott, a prolific home run hitter, and subsequently dreamed of becoming the same. Instead, his outsized talent for football led him down a similar path. Well, we're going to give Giles a chance to fulfill that childhood dream and crush a few balls out of the park.