Perhaps more than any baseball player in recent memory, Hunter Pence always put the emphasis back on the team and his teammates. But there was one individual bucket list item he always had in mind and never got to cross off.
On Monday's Giants Talk Podcast, Pence said there was one regret from his lengthy and successful MLB career: He never got to participate in a Home Run Derby.
"I always loved hitting BP homers," Pence said. "I used to be a BP homer guy, that was my thing. It just never happened. It was my two things: I wanted to win the World Series and I wanted to be in the Home Run Derby. But, I'm very thankful, and honestly, as a kid, I was just like I'm going to play until they rip the jersey off me and until I can't play anymore."
Pence did exactly that, playing 14 big league seasons and more than 1,700 games before hanging it up at the age of 37. During all that time as a big league star, though, he never got into the Home Run Derby, and in retrospect, it seems completely insane that MLB never made that happen. Pence checks literally every box you could imagine.
He had seven 20-homer seasons, hit 25 four times, and he also made four All-Star teams, so it's not like it was hard to get him to the event, held every year the night before the All-Star Game. Pence was already in his thirties when Statcast took over distance tracking in 2015, but even in parts of six seasons, he had four homers in their database that were measured at 450-plus feet. In 2013, Pence hit a 476-foot homer that was the longest of the MLB season. He also showed that power in BP every day, and he certainly had the stamina to keep swinging hard round after round.
Pence checked every entertainment box, too. He was one of the first baseball players to gain a huge following on social media, was one of the most famous members of two title teams, and inspired a Hunter Pence sign campaign that briefly went pretty viral. And then there's the swing, which was so unorthodox yet effective that it deserved to be showcased to fans of all 30 teams.
Somehow it never happened, but that's okay. Pence said he's "pretty satisfied" with how everything worked out and "thankful beyond my wildest dreams" about his career. A lot of that is because of two memorable October runs in San Francisco.
"I wanted to be the best, and not the best player but I wanted to be on the best team," Pence said. "Two times we got to be the best in the world and it was super special."