Saturday, July 25, 2009

Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski Bangs It Through In Good Sports Home Run Derby

New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski proved that kickers are athletes by winning the First Annual Good Sports Celebrity Home Run Derby yesterday at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.

Gostkowski, the Patriots' pro-bowl kicker, amazed the crowd of about 1,000 by smashing 20 long balls in the first round and another 13 in the final round over the slightly-drawn-in fence at LaLacheur.

Gostkowski, who aside from Lowell's own "Irish" Mickey Ward, may have been the smallest contestant in the derby, smashed home runs on nine of his first 11 pitches, easily advancing into the final round.

"I was a pitcher in college," explained Gostkowski, who actually attended Memphis State on a baseball scholarship. "I took my share of BP (batting practice)."

Other competitors in the contest included Patriots Tully Banta-Cain and Christian Fauria, Bruins Lyndon Byers and Andy Brickley (NESN), Celtic Bill Walker, WEEI personality Mike Adams, NESN anchor desk personality Cole Wright, and the stars of the Biggest Loser reality series, Mark and Jay Kruger.

Fauria and Wright advanced to the final round along with Gostkowski, with Fauria setting the pace with 12 long balls. Gostkowski trailed Fauria in the finals, 12-9, with only one more out remaining.

"The pressure got to me once they put my kids on the mic," laughed Fauria, who smashed 10 in round one to advance.

Just like he's done so many times for the Patriots, Gostkowski stepped to the metaphorical scrimmage line and banged his next four pitches "through the uprights" for a last-second victory.

"I think we better bring in the testing truck," quipped Lyndon Byers of the WAAF Hillman Morning Show, alluding to the fact that the kicker may be juiced.

The real winners at the event were the fans, the kids and Good Sports. Good Sports is a non-profit organization whose goal is to increase youth participation in sports, fitness and recreational programs by targeting one of the major obstacles in participation, access to sports equipment.

Since 2003, Good Sports has provided more than $3.8 worth of equipment, while impacting more than 180,000 kids in nearly 600 youth programs.

Good Sports CEO Melissa Tatro Harper, took the microhone at the end of the event and reminded fans, "Every home run hit was a home run to help kids."

The event also featured an appearance by the Devil Dawg from the Lowell Devil Hockey team, as well as, numerous vendors, raffles and auctions of sports items and memorabilia.

After the event the crowd was treated to a cook out with the athletes and their families.

"This was really exciting," exclaimed Billerica's Derek Gardner, a youngster who attended the event with his family. "Gostkowski had a great swing. He was awesome."

Gardner's sister Brennah stopped chewing her hamburger long enough to tell me, "Yeah, it was cool to be here."

Overall, the event was a home run for Gostkowski, Good Sports and all the fans of the event.

Visit Good Sports Boston site for more information and to see all of the wonderful events on the Good Sports Calendar.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for the Bleacher Report. Feel free to contact him at He is also a supporter of the book A Glove of Their Own, the award winning children's book that teachers children to pay it forward through baseball. Visit and purchase the book under donor code GSB 133 Good Sports Boston. AGOTO will donate $3.00 from each sale will go to Good Sports Boston.

PHOTO CREDIT: Holly Johnson

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