Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 7/2/12
Don't get him wrong: If he had to do it all over again, he would do it all over again. Just don't ask Danny Tartabull to like it. "It's a bunch of bull-(expletive) you do," the former Kansas City Royals slugger chuckles. Before long, you're laughing, too. "It is," he continues. "Because, seriously, when you're in a Home Run Derby, your mindset is different than when you're taking batting practice to get ready for a game. Your mind is thinking about hitting the ball nine miles as opposed to being technically sound." You're calling Tartabull on two fronts: First, because he's the last Royals player to appear in a Home Run Derby - 1991, when mullets were the rage and gas was 1.14 a gallon - and one of just two since the event was added to All-Star Game festivities in 1985. Second, because there's a chance that dubious, 21-year streak might come to an end when the mid-summer classic hits Kansas City early next month. "It has been a long time," Tartabull tells FOXSports.com. "To me, it was just an honor to be a part of it. And I hope that (whomever is chosen) feels the same, because representing the Royals - you want to represent the Royals for all the right reasons, all the traditions that they basically represent." Tartabull represented as best he could, hitting two homers for the American League - which won, 20-7, thanks to 12 shots from Cal Ripken Jr., then a Derby record. And if the change in mindset bothered him, it never showed much in the numbers: Tartabull was hitting .320 with 20 home runs and 19 walks in 70 games going into the 1991 All-Star break. He hit .311 with 11 homers and 46 walks in 62 games during the second half. "You know what? It was one of those things," recalls Tartabull, now 49 and a businessman in Southern California. "One of those moments that you cherish, and you're very humble and thankful." Tartabull was selected for the American League roster by Oakland manager Tony La Russa. During an early July series between the Royals and A's, the burly outfielder was told he would start - it was just a matter of where. Oakland's Dave Henderson ended up opening the game in right field and Tartabull started as the designated hitter, hitting fifth. "He didn't tell me if I'd be in right field or DH-ing," recalls Tartabull, who batted .316 with 31 home runs in 1991, his last in Kansas City. "I told him that was fine with me. Like I said, that was an honor to even be a part of it." The game itself was a bit of an anti-climax: Tartabull faced Atlanta's Tom Glavine in his first at-bat with two outs in the bottom of the first, Ripken at second and Wade Boggs at first, stranding both runners after a strikeout. He was matched up against Montreal's Dennis Martinez with two outs in the bottom of the third, ending the inning on a lineout to Chris Sabo. The American League trailed, 1-0, after the first inning, but rallied for a 4-2 victory in the first All-Star Game ever played in Toronto. "I'd had a background of dealing with being in Canada a lot (in the minors), whether it be in Calgary or Vancouver," Tartabull says. "So for me, it was very comfortable, to be honest with you. I had all my family there, and it was a lot of fun. They did it right. I wish it was in Kansas City, but it wasn't." You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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