ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Rivets put on a show Saturday morning. It was unliked anything we’ve ever seen here in Rockford. It’s not every day you get to see one of the biggest names in the major leagues, mashing home runs in your own backyard.
But this was no ordinary day.
Jose Canseco, the former Major League Baseball All-Star made his way to Prairie Street Brewing Company for this year’s Rock River Showdown.
“How many guys do you know that are 59 years old that can hit a softball 500 feet? Zero, I’m the only one in the world that can do it,” said Canseco.
It was a home run derby featuring the star slugger himself and the winner of a contest between the Rockford Rivets and the Lakeshore Chinooks. This was a first for Canseco – he’s participated in quite a few home run derbies, but nothing quite like this one.
“I’ve never tried to hit a ball over a river before, especially when it’s going to be about 700 feet, this environment it’s going to be very difficult to do,” said Canseco.
It was a beautiful day, just a tad windy, but the fans were loving it.
“We said, we have to go,” said Brian Jeanmaire who has been a Canseco fan since he was a kid. “You know, big name like Jose Canseco coming to Rockford is awesome.”
Even calling this experience ‘a dream come true’ to see Canseco in their hometown.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s been signing all the autographs. Fantastic to meet him and kind of a childhood dream,” said Jeanmaire.
The wind definitely played a part for The Cuban Cannon. Pitches were falling inside which led to quite a few pulled attempts. So, the Rivets decided to move up the floating fence to hopefully give the crowd some more homers. Jose fired off four in his final round, he definitely expected more, but gave it a good ‘go’ for 59 years old.
“Yeah, I mean second round I don’t know, I kind of lost my strength, my rhythm, my wind,” said Canseco. “That’s what happens when you’re 59 years old.”
He was going up against the young gun Andrew Delaney, the Rivets outfielder who’s hitting .271 this season. He blasted five across the line to take down the slugger himself.
“Definitely a dream come true, definitely a very surreal moment and I’m glad I was a part of it,” said Delaney after a celebratory jump in the Rock River. “You know I kind of got some in the air and just found a groove and kept running with it.”
It wasn’t exactly the result Jose was looking for, but definitely a special sight to see.