Under the floodlights of Jack Kemp Stadium, a few individuals gathered for one purpose: to hit some whiffle balls hard, fast and far. Will Nahmens (senior), four-year Occidental men’s baseball brave-heart, bested the rest at Tiger Sports Information Network’s (TSIN) inaugural Home Run Derby Nov. 18. It was the school’s first memorable ball-hitting contest in years. TSIN — Occidental’s sports broadcasting club — organized this home run derby as both a fundraiser and an opportunity to raise awareness for their club. It brought the Tiger community together around the timeless appeals of competition and athletic excellence.
After his triumph, Nahmens found it hard to put into words what the win meant for him.
“It’s difficult to breathe right now,” Nahmens said. “Do you ever feel like your whole life has been a dream, and that only now you’re waking up? … Oh my God, I’m crying.”
The competition was open to the whole school — TSIN advertised through quad sitting and the creation of a public Facebook event. Yet, out of 12 participants, the majority came from the baseball team. Some students held that this was incredibly unfair — that nobody could ever expect to win a casual competition against a college athlete who has dedicated himself to hitting balls since the age of eight. Despite this minor concern, the event proceeded with excitement.
“My favorite part of the night was having fun with all of the participants and calling the derby through the loudspeakers at the stadium as if it were the MLB [derby] on ESPN,” TSIN Athletics Liaison Matt Weiser (junior) said.
A fresh white Joc Pederson jersey — autographed by the Dodgers’ starting center fielder himself — awaited the victor of the derby. To take home the grand prize, participants had to win the competition by hitting more homers than the rest in head-to-head matchups.
Samuel Maury-Holmes (first year) made it to the semifinals with hopes of leaving Jack Kemp Stadium with the grand prize. Nahmens bested Maury-Holmes in the semifinal round, leaving the first year utterly dejected.
“Yeah, I really wanted to win it,” Maury-Holmes said.
Travis Thein (first year) and Nahmens matched each other swing for swing, homer for homer in the final. In a dramatic last pitch amid a hushed and watchful crowd, Nahmens remained calm and composed to hit the winning home run on his last attempt. Nahmens shared some secrets of his success — secrets that Maury-Holmes will likely wish to take advantage of in the coming years.
“Well, I had a couple of brews before I came out here,” Nahmens said. “I think that did the trick … that and hard work.”
Nahmens was enthused to receive the Dodgers jersey, although perhaps his personal loyalties to the Dodgers’ archrivals the San Francisco Giants prevented him from fully appreciating the prize. He left with ironic last words.
“Go Giants,” Nahmens said.