Trey Mancini’s story of overcoming Stage 3 colon cancer and enduring five months of chemotherapy reached millions of viewers of the Home Run Derby on Monday night. That he didn’t win the Derby wasn’t important. He was triumphant in defeat.
Mancini lost to New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso, who won the last Derby held in 2019, in the finals of the event at Denver’s Coors Field.
Enjoying himself immensely, Mancini beat Oakland’s Matt Olson, 24-23, in the first round, and Colorado’s Trevor Story, 13-12, in the second round before facing Alonso, who crushed 35 home runs in the first round.
Mancini said on ESPN after reaching the final round: “It’s hard to put into words. I’m just trying to appreciate everything all day but there are nerves early on, I’m not going to lie. Being in this atmosphere is incredible, especially considering where I was a year ago. I was two months out from finishing treatment. I’m really, really appreciating this a lot.”
Mancini was cheered on by Oriole teammate Cedric Mullins, who will start in center field in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, former teammate Manny Machado and some other All-Stars, including Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Machado’s San Diego Padres’ teammate, Fernando Tatis Jr.
In the final round, Mancini went first and powered 22 home runs. Alonso hit his 23rd with 32 seconds still left on the clock.
Mancini acknowledged how fortunate he was to be competing a year after surgery and chemotherapy that forced him to miss the 2020 season and gave him doubts about whether he would come back.
The power and ease of Alonso’s home run swing will be remembered by those attending the Derby. So will Mancini’s competitiveness, courage and willingness to share his story.