derby evolution

The year was 1983. Remembered because it was the season 3B Ron Cey joined the Chicago Cubs. Fantasy Rotisserie Baseball was in its infancy and excited team owners eagerly awaited the numerous spring forecast magazines coming to stores. In one of those magazines a friend spotted a contest where the concept seemed simple enough. Pick the hitters who would hit the most total home runs during the season.

We filled out entries and sent our money off hoping we would be among the winners. But we never found out. The season ended and we never heard a word.

Our money simply vanished.

A few years later in 1988 our current version of HR Derby was born. In ’87 Mark McGwire and Andre Dawson led the majors with 49 HRs each. That inspired 134 entries from which the winner was my mother! When the season started every Derbier received a copy of all 134 entries so at the end it was clear the game was on the level.

As seasons went by interest grew. Season 4 in 1991 saw the Derby break 1K entries for the first time. By this time the Pick Sheet had been introduced. This was a list of every hitter picked by every entry so that people could be confident there was no hanky panky going on.

Even the shortened season in 1994 and the late open     in 1995 did not seem to dampen interest. And when McGwire/Bonds/Sosa grew in size and HR numbers, interest in the Derby exploded along with them.

Entries peaked at 11,524 in 2002 the year after 

Bonds crashed 73 round-trippers.

While the high level of interest has fallen off dramatically from the ‘glory’ days there continues to be a remarkable number of entries. Especially considering for the first thirty-three years the game was operated by ‘snail mail’.

Entry Fee Increases

When the Derby started the Entry Fee was $10 with every penny being paid out in prizes. It stayed that way for twelve years. By that time entries had broken the  10K level and the game had become work that could no longer be done for ‘free’. So the entry fee increased to $11 with $10.50 going in to the Prize Fund and the remainder as compensation. This seemed like a win/win solution with the Prize Fund growing.

Cost stayed at $11 for twelve more years before being increased o $12 in 2012 with $11.25 going into, and increasing the Prize Fund.

In 2020 this website was introduced as an experiment that will be fully implemented in 2021 for the Derby’s 34th season! In 2021 the entry fee will increase to either $13 or $15. At the same time the fees for Standings Reports and Pick Sheets will be eliminated.

It’s no surprise that interest in the Derby

was highest when these boppers were banging HRs!

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and vote for

2021 entry fee

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