John Phillips stars in $40,000 home run derby

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Coach Jason Garrett took home the Cowboys’ home run trophy Wednesday evening, thanks primarily to a strange scoring system that strongly rewarded 250-foot fly balls.

Tight end John Phillips was clearly the star of the show at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, an event that resulted in Reliant making a $40,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Phillips was the only one of the contestants, which included nine Cowboys players, Garrett and Troy Aikman, to actually go deep.

Phillips’ shot that landed in the second row of the left-field seats was no fluke. He also had a blast that hit high on the left-center wall next to the 390-foot sign and several shots that landed on the warning track, but he hit mostly hard grounders during the championship round against Garrett.

“He looks like Mickey Mantle, for crying out loud,” said Garrett, who mastered the art of getting the ball up in the air because Reliant made donations for fly balls that left the infield. “I was going up there doing my thing, and he was trying to hit them all out. That’s why I was able to sneak in the backdoor.”

Most of the Cowboys frankly looked like football players who hadn’t swung a baseball bat in years, if ever. Miles Austin, whose best shot smashed off the wall in right-center, ranked a distant second to Phillips on the eyeball test.

Phillips’ baseball prowess is no surprise. He was a heck of a power hitter at itty-bitty Bath County High in Virginia. And he could see himself reporting to work at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington every day.

“When this football thing is over,” Phillips said with a grin, “I want to get a tryout.”