Pujols, Champ Pederson steal show at Home Run Derby

Joc (right) wasn't the only Pederson getting love from Albert Pujols on Monday night.

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Yes, the Reds’ Todd Frazier won Monday night’s Home Run Derby in front of his home fans in Cincinnati, but Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson left perhaps the biggest impression on people with his repeated mammoth blasts carrying him to the finals and within one home run of taking the title from Frazier.

Ultimately, though, it was his older brother Champ and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols who melted the most hearts.

After the elder Pujols fell to Pederson 12-11 in Round 2, he gave the new kid in L.A. a congratulatory hug. Then he saw Champ and gave him an even bigger hug, lifting him off the ground.

And the reason behind the hug is even better.

Champ has Down syndrome, as does Pujols’ oldest daughter Isabella; The Pujols Foundation does a lot of work for children with Down syndrome. Champ and Pujols first crossed paths at a movie screening in March and hit it off instantly. Champ told Pujols he was his favorite player — despite the objections of his and Joc’s mother Shelly. He even asked the slugger for a jersey.

Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown picked it up from there in April:

Champ Pederson (foreground) had his two favorite players with him on Monday night, and hugs all around.

Brown then recounted when two players met on the field again in the Freeway Series just before the beginning of the season:

So on Monday night, with either Pederson or Pujols guaranteed a spot in the final, it seemed Champ was in a no-lose spot. But ultimately, blood runs thicker than Sharpie ink. Here was Champ during the face-off.

H/t: Big League Stew