As you may have heard this week, it’s an exclusive club Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera joined on Sunday when he hit the 500th home run of his career.
Cabrera is the 28th member of the club; here’s how every member reached 500 homers, from Boston heartbreaker Babe Ruth to Boston cheerleader David Ortiz, in chronological order.
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Career homers: 714. Games to 500: 1,741.
No. 500: Ruth pulled a no-out pitch from Willis Hudlin in the second inning into the right-field stands in Cleveland’s League Park to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. On the same day in Boston, the majors’ No. 2 career home run hitter homered as well; it was No. 263 for the Cubs’ Rogers Hornsby.
Career homers: 534. Games to 500: 1,978.
No. 500: In the first game of a doubleheader, Foxx homered for the Red Sox off George Caster with one out in the sixth inning in Philadelphia. Foxx’s blast was one of six by the BoSox in the game and was sandwiched between homers by Ted Williams and Joe Cronin.
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Career homers: 511. Games to 500: 2,651.
No. 500: Ott launched a no-out pitch from the Braves’ Johnny Hutchings to right in the third inning at the Polo Grounds. As the New York Daily News wrote the next day, referencing the short fences in right and left field, “Mel’s blow wasn’t a typical Polo Grounds cheapie, either. It was a sort of fair-to-middlin’ bargain, marked down to 319 feet."
Career homers: 521. Games to 500: 2,210.
No. 500: Williams’ one-out, two-run shot in the third inning off Wynn Hawkins soared to left-center in Cleveland Stadium by Lake Erie. The Cleveland fans were pleasant hosts, too, giving Williams a standing ovation as an usher behind the fence caught the ball and later returned it to the Splendid Splinter.
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Career homers: 660. Games to 500: 1,987.
No. 500: Mays tied the game at 1 in the fourth inning with a blast to deep center off Houston’s Don Nottebart in the Astrodome. Mays was laconic about the milestone blast after the game: “It was a fastball, and I thought I hit it pretty good.” It landed about 410 feet from the plate.
Career homers: 536. Games to 500: 2,136.
No. 500: Mantle sent a two-out pitch from Stu Miller deep to center at Yankee Stadium in the seventh inning to tie the Orioles at 5. The night before, he’d promised his wife back in Dallas he’d hit No. 500 as a Mother’s Day gift for her: “I’m going to call her up again now, and when I tell her, she’ll probably say, ‘Oh, swell,'” Mantle said after the game.
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Career homers: 512. Games to 500: 2,294.
No. 500: The Texas native sent future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal’s no-out pitch in the sixth to right field at Candlestick Park to drive in three runs and give the Astros a 6-4 lead. About five weeks after the milestone, Mathews was dealt to the Tigers for pitchers Leo Marentette and Fred Gladding.
Career homers: 755. Games to 500: 2,204.
No. 500: “Hammerin’ Hank" broke a scoreless tie with his three-run blast to deep center off San Francisco’s Mike McCormick — the NL's reigning Cy Young winner — with two outs in the bottom of the third. After being presented with a commemorative trophy at home plate, Aaron was succinct, according to the Atlanta Constitution: “I’m sorry that I waited so long.”
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Career homers: 512. Games to 500: 2,442.
No. 500: Banks didn’t wait long, sending a two-out pitch from Atlanta’s Pat Jarvis on a line to left in the second inning at Wrigley Field. Manager Leo Durocher was appreciative of the blast, and dismissive of the usual Wrigley homer to the Chicago Tribune: “I’m glad to see him hit it the way he did. That was a shot. I didn’t want him to get No. 500 on a fly ball that the wind carried in.”
Career homers: 573. Games to 500: 1,955.
No. 500: The big Idahoan waited 18 seasons for No. 500, then just five innings for No. 501, launching both off Baltimore’s Mike Cuellar in Minnesota — going first to left with two outs in the first, and then to left-center with one out and one on in the sixth — to tie the game at 3. The two blasts came less than a month after Killebrew homers in the All-Star Game at Tiger Stadium.
Career homers: 586. Games to 500: 2,315.
No. 500: Robinson entered the day in Baltimore at 498 homers. He then opened Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Tigers with a one-out, three-run shot off Mike Kilkenny down the left-field line to get to 499. No. 500 came in Game 2 17 innings later, a two-out, two-run blast of Fred Scherman, also to left.
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Career homers: 521. Games to 500: 2,377.
No. 500: McCovey led off the top of the second with a homer that sliced over the left-field fence in Atlanta off Jamie Easterly in the first game of a doubleheader. It was a relief for the 40-year-old, who told the San Francisco Examiner: “Right now, this is more like a release than a thrill. It’s not like all of a sudden you have 500 home runs. It happens slowly, and maybe it’s the kind of thing that takes time to sink in.”
Career homers: 563. Games to 500: 2,417.
No. 500: Garbage-time homers count, too, just like Jackson’s solo shot to right off Kansas City’s Bud Black while the Angels trailed 7-0 with no outs in the seventh in Anaheim, California. The blast came in the same stadium as his first major-league homer, 17 years to the day after Jackson had homered for a K.C. team — the A’s, not the Royals — in a visit to Southern California.
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Career homers: 548. Games to 500: 2,118.
No. 500: Schmidt certainly gets points for drama, hitting No. 500 off the Pirates’ Don Robinson with two outs and two on while trailing in Pittsburgh by one run. “Whoever wrote the script for this should win a Pulitzer Prize,” Schmidt said afterward in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Obviously the only thing missing is that I would like for it to have happened in Veterans Stadium.”
Career homers: 504. Games to 500: 2,950.
No. 500: Murray slipped No. 500 in a few weeks before the end of the season, taking the first pitch from the Tigers’ Felipe Lira to right-center in Baltimore to tie the game at 3 in the seventh inning. Lira was a good sport about it, congratulating Murray before the next afternoon’s game: “It was a great and beautiful accomplishment,” the pitcher said the next day in the Freep.
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Career homers: 583. Games to 500: 1,639.
No. 500: The Southern California native did it against California's southernmost team, the Padres, albeit in St. Louis. McGwire picked up Nos. 500 and 501 off starter Andy Ashby, going 451 feet to center with two outs in the third inning and then again with two outs in the eighth. The game nearly had a second milestone: San Diego’s Tony Gwynn picked up hit No. 2,999 in the ninth inning.
Career homers: 762. Games to 500: 2,155.
No. 500: Bonds buried a 2-0 slider from L.A.’s Terry Adams with one man on in the right-field stands at Pacific Bell Park to give the Giants a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth. The achievement made a philosopher out of Bonds, speaking to the San Francisco Examiner: “I just felt like a whole weight has been lifted off my chest. You go up there and you feel like you’re on stage by yourself. It’s a nerve-racking thing.”
Career homers: 609. Games to 500: 1,879.
No. 500: Sosa’s first homer of the season for the Cubs came in their fourth game; the outfielder took the fourth pitch he saw from Cincinnati’s Scott Sullivan deep to right in the top of the seventh. At 34, Sosa was the third-youngest member of the 500-homer club.
Career homers: 569. Games to 500: 2,448.
No. 500: The game was already a blowout — 13-5, Rangers with two outs in the seventh — when Palmeiro launched the sixth pitch from Cleveland’s Dave Elder to right to make it 16-5 in Arlington, Texas. “I was just watching to make sure it didn’t go foul,” Palmeiro told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram afterward. “But it stayed straight. I touched first base, and then I don’t remember what happened after that.”
Career homers: 630. Games to 500: 1,979.
No. 500: Call it a Father’s Day gift for Ken Griffey Sr., who hit 152 big-league homers of his own (for four MLB franchises) — “The Kid” led off the sixth inning (with the second of three franchises) with a 393-foot solo shot to right on a 2-2 pitch from the Cardinals’ Matt Morris on a Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.
Career homers: 521. Games to 500: 2,168.
No. 500: Thomas was suited up for Toronto, but achieved the milestone in Minnesota — appropriate for a longtime giant of the AL Central — launching the fourth pitch he saw from the Twins’ Carlos Silva to left. It wasn’t all smiles, though: “I’m probably the first one to (hit his 500th home run) and get thrown out of the ball game,” he told Toronto’s National Post after he was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Career homers: 696. Games to 500: 1,855.
No. 500: Rodriguez was about as cold as you can be in August in New York coming into this game — 3-for-27 over eight games between Nos. 499 and 500. But everything was fine again with the first pitch from Kansas City’s Kyle Davies with one out in the bottom of the first as A-Rod launched the ball down the left-field line for a 3-0 lead.
Career homers: 612. Games to 500: 2,000.
No. 500: Thome made a celebrational curtain call easy, crushing the sixth pitch he saw — a 3-2 slider from the Angels’ Dustin Moseley — to center in the bottom of the ninth to snap a 7-7 tie in the White Sox’s favor. His teammates might have been more excited than he was, carrying Thome on their shoulders. Teammate Paul Konerko told the Chicago Tribune: “I’ll bet you that none of the guys who are in (the 500-homer club) had teammates who were happier for them than we are for Jim.”
Career homers: 555. Games to 500: 2,004.
No. 500: A birthday gift to himself, albeit the day after he turned 36, as Ramirez followed a David Ortiz sac fly with a solo shot to right center with two outs in the top of the seventh on the first pitch from Baltimore’s Chad Bradford. Oddly, it was the third 500-homer connection for Boston manager Terry Francona; he was a Tigers coach when Eddie Murray reached the milestone, and his father, Tito, was in the lineup for Cleveland when Boston’s Ted Williams joined the club in 1960.
Career homers: 509. Games to 500: 2,482.
No. 500: Sheffield was set to hit No. 500 for the Tigers, but he was released late in spring training, with the Tigers still owing him $14 million. As Tigers manager Jim Leyland put it then, “This is a bomb.” And so it was off to the Mets, for whom he came off the bench to lead off the bottom of the seventh against the Brewers’ Mitch Stetter. And, just as he’d had to wait all offseason, he waited until the ninth pitch, on a 3-2 count, to send the ball to deep left for No. 500.
Career homers: 676. Games to 500: 1,978.
No. 500: The then-Angel picked up No. 498 in Detroit off Joe Nathan on April 19, then ambushed Washington’s Taylor Jordan twice in D.C. No. 499 flew out to left on a 1-1 pitch and scored three in the top of the first and then, four innings later, Pujols arrived at No. 500 with a blast to left-center on a 1-2 pitch for another two runs.
Career homers: 541. Games to 500: 2,242.
No. 500: It was a good day in St. Petersburg, Florida, for “Big Papi,” as he went from 498 to 500 with homers in the first and fifth innings on 1-2 and 2-2 counts, respectively, while driving in four runs. It was not so good for future Tiger Matt Moore, who surrendered both homers (as well as two other homers) for the Rays. “You never want to be on that side of history,” Moore told the Boston Globe afterward. “Probably going to see that swing quite a bit over the next however long.”
Career homers: 500. Games to 500: 2,556.
No. 500: After eight games without a homer, Cabrera launched an 84.4 mph changeup on a 1-1 count from Blue Jays starter Steven Matz 400 feet to right-center to tie the game at 1 in the sixth inning. The blast took the pressure off Cabrera and many others, as Tigers manager AJ Hinch told the Freep's Evan Petzold: “We’ve seen him do some tremendous things this year,” Hinch said. “The names he’s passed on the (MLB) hit total. He’s the Venezuelan hit king. Now he’s hit 500, one of 28 players. I know our fans back home gave him a ton of support. Everybody relaxed a little bit when he hit the homer.”
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