In fact, hometown favorite David Wright had joked he would take his Derby swings from second base.
"This stadium may be very difficult, but it's not as difficult as Oakland. And if I can do it in Oakland, I thought, why can't I do it here?" Cespedes said.
Baseball's big boppers took aim at two trucks parked beside the home run apple behind the center-field fence, a popular staple at Mets games dating to their days in Shea Stadium. Cespedes dinged the hood on one, bringing a rousing cheer.
Cuban reliever Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds brought Cespedes water and a towel during the first round, and 2010 champion David Ortiz strolled over to offer encouragement and advice.
The Rockettes danced atop the dugouts and did their famous kickline between first-round batters.
"It's far different from in Cuba," Cespedes said. "There might be two people at our games. There's only one photographer, and this is completely different and foreign to me. But I'm very happy to be here."
Wright and another hometown darling, Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, were both eliminated in the first round. Alvarez went to high school in New York City and grew up in the same Manhattan neighborhood as Manny Ramirez.
Also knocked out early were defending champion Prince Fielder, the only player besides Ken Griffey Jr. to win multiple crowns, and American League captain Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, who made Cespedes his final pick.
Cano, the 2011 champion, was booed relentlessly in Kansas City last year after he didn't tab Royals slugger Billy Butler to participate, and the Kansas City crowd was delighted when Cano went without a home run.
He connected on his third swing this time but finished last with only four.
Wright, booed in Pittsburgh last weekend for initially passing on Alvarez, hit five home runs as the sellout crowd of 43,558 chanted "Let's Go Mets!"
"I ran out of gas," Wright said.
Alvarez was added when Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez pulled out with a sprained middle finger. Gonzalez remains in the National League starting lineup for Tuesday night's game, though.
NOTES: Cespedes' home run total matched Ortiz (2010) and Cano (2011) for the third-highest behind Bobby Abreu (41 in 2005) and Josh Hamilton (35 in 2008). ... Davis was credited with the longest drive of the night at 502 feet. ... Oakland third base coach Mike Gallego pitched to Cespedes, who averaged 405 feet on his home runs. He became the first A's player to participate in the Derby since Jason Giambi in 2001 and joined Mark McGwire (1992) as the team's only winners. "Before I left, they asked me to bring home the trophy," Cespedes said. ... The American League topped the NL 53-50. ... Cano showed up at the afternoon news conference in a snappy suit. Harper was in a T-shirt, mesh shorts, sneakers and his spiky mohawk. At least he was dressed in blue and orange, Mets colors. ... By hitting 103 home runs in all, the sluggers raised $529,000 for charity.