July 11, 2011
PHOENIX — Nobody knows your swing like dear old dad.
New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano(notes) proved as much on Monday night, winning the 2011 Home Run Derby as his father Jose Cano — a former pitcher for the Houston Astros — threw him baseballs through all three rounds. Cano outlasted seven other sluggers at Chase Field and chased down Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez(notes) in the final round with 12 home runs.
The father-son tandem breathed a little bit of soul — created a signature moment, really — into what was otherwise an uneventful contest that lasted about three hours. After the younger Cano tied Gonzalez with a blast into the right-field stands, both men shared a gigantic bear hug near the mound. "I love you dad," said Robinson Cano in a clear statement that wasn't difficult to lip-read.
"The best thing wasn't my swing," Cano said afterward. "It was the kind of man who was throwing — my dad. He knows me really well."
Indeed, the Cano-Cano combination is far from a novelty. Jose Cano throws to his son during the winter and often consults on Robinson's performance after Yankees games. The counseling has turned Robinson into a four-time All-Star, an MVP-caliber player and the future face of the Yankees franchise as Derek Jeter(notes), Jorge Posada(notes) and Alex Rodriguez(notes) draw closer to retirement.
Monday's victory was far from a cakewalk, though. Gonzalez went first in the final round and hit 11 home runs. But Cano, who had also hit 12 homers in the second round, said he was far from tired and planned to win the contest.
"I was being positive," he said. "My dad said, 'You can do it.'"
And they did do it.
But lest you think Monday was all about the men of the Cano family, check this out. After hitting a home run in the second round, Robinson sent a special message to his mother, mouthing "That one's for you, mom" as the ball sailed through the air at Chase Field.