2014 Southern League HR Derby a Hit For Lookouts and Engel Stadium


Chattanooga-(WDEF-TV) We still have over a month before baseball returns this year.
Of course the sport may never return to Chattanooga’s Engel Stadium.
The Lookouts left the historic venue in 1999, but Engel got a mini-lease on life in 2014 when it hosted the Southern League All-Star Home Run Derby, which was won by a now famous player.

For a sport that embraces history, why not give the Southern League’s showcase sluggers, an historic venue for their home run derby.
Said Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo:”I’ve been to a bunch of All Star games in my minor league baseball career. It’s always kind of fizzled out. Four o’clock start. You’re playing a six o’clock game. No one is in the building. I thought if we could do it somewhere else, that would make all the sense in the world. I spent six years working at Engel Stadium. I love Engel Stadium, and I thought if we had the opportunity to go over there and do something like that, it might just be fun for everybody.”
Fun for everybody except maybe the Lookouts staff.
Engel wasn’t exactly derby ready.
Said Lookouts media relations director Dan Kopf:”We spent probably a week in advance cleaning it up. Picking up rocks off the infield and outfield to make sure no one tripped.”
Added Mozingo:”We sent our groundskeeper over there two or three days early to rebuild the mound completely. To rebuild the plate area completely.”
Said Kopf:”Even though it hadn’t been played in for 10, 15, or 20 years. It just had this historical, majestic feel.”
And did the players sense that majestic feel?
Said Kopf:”Yeah they sensed the history and also sensed that center field wall was really far away.”
Try 471 feet to center.
And left field was no cheap shot either.
Reporter:”Did you think those players were going to put it on Third Street?
Said Mozingo:”I did not. It’s a long way back there. You’ve got to remember the fence was about 20 yards in front of the big wall out there. And the fact is, not a lot of players hit home runs that day. Scott Schebler, who was our big home run threat that year, hit one that day, but Kris Bryant just put on a clinic.”
Reporter:”I heard one ball got to the gas station across the street.”
Said Mozingo:”Absolutely. I think it was more than one. You could watch over the fence, and you would see them hit. Then the ball would hit the ground, and you could see them bounce back up over the fence.”
Kris Bryant walked away with the derby crown, but the fans seemed to walk away with more Engel memories.
Said Mozingo:”To be able to go back and kind of relive some of that old, old magic of Engel Stadium and to have the event come off well. It was really a lot of fun.”

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.