Unlike the NBA, MLB does not have a skills competition during the All-Star Break.
But if it did, Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Deion Sanders, and Kenny Lofton probably would have dominated whatever field they were up against back in the 1990s.
And even though the ’90s represented the peak years of intrigue for the Slam Dunk Competition, you would have a real tough time convincing me that this quartet of stars wouldn’t have given the pros a run for their money.
Cut4 recently unearthed some video of Griffey Jr., Bonds, Sanders and Lofton in various dunk contests and the visuals are spectacular.
Check out The Kid go up against fellow big leaguer Ben McDonald at the 1991 Foot Locker Slam Dunk Contest:
Griffey would get his revenge during their big league careers, taking McDonald deep for three of his 630 career home runs.
Let the record show that it was another baseball player stealing the show: Delino DeShields channeled his inner-Spud Webb with a dunk that registered a high score of 9.8 – in a group that featured NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders!
The following year, Griffey came back for more and faced an even more difficult foe: Kenny Lofton. Lofton, a former point guard for Arizona’s Final Four team in 1988, did not disappoint, as he brought out the highlight-reel dunks from the outset:
But Lofton wasn’t the only two-sport athlete throwing down in 1992.
Deion Sanders, who was splitting time between football and baseball in the 90s, showed off some dunks while wearing a bucket hat. He was going up against another baseball player – Mariners pitcher Erik Hanson:
And that was just the appetizer as the quarterfinal round featured baseball’s eventual home run king as Prime Time’s prime competition. And after missing his first dunk, Bonds doesn’t disappoint on his second attempt.
How can you not love Dick Vitale’s enthusiasm here? And did you catch how he introduced Bonds and Sanders as “two of the most controversial athletes going head-to-head.”
Maybe it’s time to bring back the Foot Locker Slam fest because some of today’s stars can go up and throw down hard, too. Just check out this video featuring Brett Lawrie and Taijuan Walker:
If I had to handicap some early favorites, I might have to pick some players off the Marlins roster – starting with Dee Gordon: