Amidst the unabated celebration and public hoopla that accompanied each 500th landmark home run blast by baseball’s greatest sluggers – the members of The 500 Home Run Club® - there was one person who least wanted to be part of the legendary event…the pitcher who gave up the 500th home run.
On September 16, 2007, a day when the White Sox handed out Jim Thome bobbleheads as a promotion, the Chicago DH was 0-for-4 when he came to bat with the game knotted at 7 in the bottom of the ninth. After Darin Erstad singled to start the inning, “The Thomenator” cracked a 3-2 pitch off Dustin Moseley for his 500th career homer, capping Chicago's rally from a 7-1 deficit.
"There are 499 other guys who gave one up," Moseley said. "Somebody had to do it and I can handle it."
Frank Thomas launched his 500th home run as a Toronto Blue Jay in the first-inning of a June 28, 2007 game in Minnesota. Batting in the DH spot “The Big Hurt” drilled a 1-2 pitch from Twins starting pitcher Carlos Silva an estimated 396 feet over the Metrodome’s left-center field fence for a three-run shot and a 4-0 Toronto lead in the first inning.
Even though it was well known that Thomas was sitting one home run away from his 500th career long ball, Silva said he had other thoughts on his mind -- like not walking the designated hitter to load the bases with only one out in the inning.
"To be honest with you, I didn't pay attention to if he hit 500," Silva said. "I just tried to make my pitches and to have a good game. That's what I tried to do. I didn't want to walk him."
Silva certainly didn't walk Thomas. Instead, he served up a slider that hung over the plate long enough for “Big Frank” to pound out of the parks for entry into into baseball’s most exclusive club – The 500 Home Run Club.
Silva didn’t relish watching Thomas’ massive frame rounding the bases with a boyish grin on his face and fist pumping in the air, but he couldn’t contain a smile of his own when talking to the media after the game.
"What can I say?" Silva said with a smile. "He got 500. I'm happy for him, and happy right now, because we won the game. There's really nothing I can say. It's a homer. He hit 500, but it's only one to me, you know?"
When the Atlanta Braves traded Kyle Davies to Kansas City in the summer of 2007, he was looking for a fresh start with the Royals. Unfortunately for Davies, on August 4th he ran into a red-hot Alex Rodriguez in his first inning as a Royals pitcher, and served up A-Rod’s 500th home run.
Despite finding himself in the baseball equivalent of hapless defender in a Michael Jordon slam-dunk poster, Davies says he’s happier than he's been in a long time. "I saw a picture that my Dad took of me smiling during that game. You know the last time I saw a picture of me smiling during in a game I was pitching?" he said. "After my third start in the major leagues, which was two years ago. ... And [this one] was after my first start in Yankee Stadium after I got my (butt) kicked."
"A week later, it was kind of cool," Davies said. "He sent me over a bat. He signed it. It said 'To Kyle, it was a really good pitch. Sorry. Home run No. 500 to a good sport. A-Rod.' "
A day after serving up Manny Ramirez's historic 500th home run on May 31, 2008, Orioles right-hander Chad Bradford was not in the mood to speak with the media. A right-handed submariner who had allowed just five home runs since the beginning of the 2005 season, and no homers to a right-handed hitter (like Manny) since May 2006. Bradford left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed inside,
His manager Dave Trembley, however, had nothing but praise for Manny Being Manny. "Congratulations to Ramirez on his 500th," said Trembley. "That's a tremendous milestone for his career and for baseball. "Obviously, he will go down as one of the greatest power hitters of all time."
On August 11th 1929 Babe Ruth hit his 500th career home run in the second inning off Willis Hudlin at Cleveland's League Park. Ruth made it on the first ball pitched by Hudlin in the second inning, a high fastball...which cleared the right field fence near the foul line. The homer was Ruth's 30th of the season. Lou Gehrig hit his 27th that day but, in typical Hudlin fashion, the right-hander won the game 6-5, pitching a complete-game nine-hitter. "He (Babe Ruth) hits a ball harder and further than any man I ever saw,” Hudlin said. “It’s almost unfair to the rest of the league for them to have Ruth and Gehrig on the same team.”
In recent years, pitchers unlucky enough to face the latest inductees into The 500 Home Run Club on that fated day, dished up the fabled 500th homer on live, worldwide television. Pitchers such as Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Terry Adams who was on the mound at Pac Bell Park (now AT&T Park) trying to earn a save in the bottom of the eight inning on April 17th, 2001 when the red-hot Barry Bonds came to the plate. The Dodgers were winning 2-1 and Bonds had four hundred ninety-nine career home runs. Bonds changed the game’s momentum around in a hurry when he slammed a 2-0 fastball into McCovey Cove, giving the Giants a 3-2 lead and an eventual victory. When asked if he wanted to be a part of baseball history, good or bad, Adams replied softly: “No. We lost, and that's the only thing I'll lose sleep over.”
“With the way Morris was pitching, there was no room for error. Unfortunately he made a mistake to the wrong guy Ken Griffey," said Boston manager Terry Francona on Matt Morris' performance on June 20, 2004. Griffey led off the sixth inning and crushed Morris' 2-2 fast ball deep into the right field stands as his Reds defeated the Cardinals, 6-0, at Busch Stadium. After the game Morris said “No comment,” but his body language said it all to a worldwide audience.
"This whole year has been a bad dream," observed Cincinnati Reds’ Pitcher Scott Sullivan after giving up Sammy Sosa’s 500th career home run on April 4th 2003 at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. Sosa's historic homer was his fourth served up by Sullivan, and came on a knee high fastball delivered by the Reds’ reliever in the top of the seventh inning. Sosa got all of it and ripped it over the right-center field wall.
On September 13, 1971: Frank Robinson of the Orioles homered in each game of a doubleheader split with Detroit, becoming the 11th member of the 500-HR club with his 2nd shot. Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four: I was warming up in the bullpen when a fan leaned out and said, "Hey Jim, how do you pitch to Frank Robinson?" I told him the truth. "Reluctantly," I said.
Mark McGwire became the sixteenth player in history to reach five hundred when he sent Andy Ashby's 1-1 breaking ball four-hundred and fifty-one feet over the center field fence! Andy Ashby gave up one more home run to Mark McGwire then said after the game, "Well, I gave up five-hundred, so I may as well give up five-hundred and one, too!"