Derby hailed from a storied baseball bat-fetching family.
Born, Home Run Derby, on Jan. 26, 2008 from the Trenton Thunder’s legendary Bat Dog, Chase That Golden Thunder. One of Derby’s siblings, Ollie, served as a Bat Dog for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
At just 3-months-old, the golden retriever made his on-field debut in 2008. He would go on to retrieve his first bat on April 8, 2010. He played with the Trenton Thunder for his career, a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees, but he also made appearances with other Minor League Baseball teams as well as the Harlem Globetrotters.
Derby was more than a bat-retrieving dog.
He also brought bottled water to umpires during scorchers at ARM & HAMMER Park.
“Derby was one of the biggest parts of our identity in the nine years of his life and it breaks my heart to share this news with our fans ahead of our 25th season,” Thunder GM/COO Jeff Hurley said in a statement. “His presence at our games and in the community was massive and every person and dog that interacted with him will miss him dearly.”
Derby had cancer and died Jan. 6. He was 9 — and just 20 days short of his 10th birthday.
He was a very good dog.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that our wonderful second generation Bat Dog, Home Run Derby, passed away this weekend.
On Friday, Jan 26, we’ll celebrate #DerbyDay on what would have been his 10th Birthday. https://t.co/7ZRZlNEKWe pic.twitter.com/gJyV5CaDoX
— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) January 8, 2018
Derby Day will be held Jan. 26 in his memory.
Fans are asked to post their memories and images of the retriever online.
Memories are already flooding social media. Like this video posted by the league.
Thank you for putting smiles on our faces, Derby. #MiLB pic.twitter.com/uPxMA7ql1B
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) January 8, 2018
This is a player who made his mark on the game.
MiLB FLASHBACK: Derby the Bat Dog is a legend who won’t soon be forgotten for @TrentonThunder, #Yankees and all of Minor League Baseball. https://t.co/dI3jfjMnqp
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) January 9, 2018
And other teams paid their respects.
Today, we offer our condolences to @TrentonThunder on the passing of Derby, one of their beloved Bat Dogs. This past season we had the pleasure of seeing Derby in action at PNC Field & will miss him dearly. Derby showed us all that a Golden Retriever is truly a man’s best friend pic.twitter.com/IkWzb1ks9M
— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) January 8, 2018
We send our deepest condolences, we are so sorry for your loss. We will miss you derby dog! https://t.co/aunEnDgcR5
— MyrtleBeachPelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) January 8, 2018
This was a dog who meant something to so many.
The Lookouts would like to extend our condolences to Rookie and the @TrentonThunder. We’ll miss you Derby, you were one of the many things that makes Minor League Baseball so great. https://t.co/bWDDphTQyx
— Chattanooga Lookouts (@ChattLookouts) January 8, 2018
Perhaps most of all, to his owner, Eric Lipsman, who has been humbled by the kindness.
On Saturday, I said goodbye to someone who brought joy to hundreds of thousands of people over the past 9 years. He’s only been gone for 2 days, but I miss him so much already. He followed in the pawsteps of his late great dad Chase and did an amazing job. Thank you DERBY! pic.twitter.com/Xfvl6r0Ldu
— Eric Lipsman (@E_Lipsman) January 8, 2018
Any pet owner knows exactly how he’s feeling.
I’m overwhelmed by all the response to our tweets about DERBY. It’s been an emotionally draining 5 days, but it is great to know that he had so many fans. I speak for my family, my @TrentonThunder family and myself when I say Thank You all. pic.twitter.com/GOPtQwrkEG
— Eric Lipsman (@E_Lipsman) January 9, 2018
Derby also leaves a fur family.
He became a dad on Dec. 15, 2013 with the birth son Rookie and daughter, Mickie. Rookie joined Derby on the field in 2014 and started his bat retrieving duties full-time in 2016.