Joining The Club in June Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Thursday, 31 May 2007

June has always been a pivotal month for major league teams, and it was the month that three members of the 500 Home Run Club hit their pivotal long balls.

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Ken Griffey, Jr. 

Manny Ramirez Celebrated on June 1st

Although his landmark 500th home run came the night before (May 31, 2008) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erpNrURLVA4&feature=related  Manny Ramirez (507+) was still celebrating becoming the newest member of The 500 Home Run Club on June 1st. 

Ramírez hit the first pitch hitting off Baltimore Orioles right-hander Chad Bradford into the seats in right-center in the seventh inning to become the 24th major leaguer to reach the milestone.  He stood and watched the flight of the ball, then took off around the bases in a slow trot, a broad smile on his face. Ramírez slapped a high-five with the first-base coach Luis Alicea, tapped hands with the third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, then hugged the on-deck hitter Mike Lowell as he crossed the plate. Many of his teammates greeted him as he reached the dugout, where he received more hugs and bounced up and down in an embrace with David Ortiz and Julio Lugo.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," Ramirez said. "So I was happy to move on." Ramirez was slow reaching the milestone. He hit No. 496 on April 19 and had only three in 34 games before hitting #500. The solo shot traveled an estimated 410 feet and gave Boston a 5-3 lead.

"It was great, especially since I've been trying so hard the past three weeks just to get it done," he said. "It finally came and I'm happy. I'm proud of myself, of all the things I've accomplished. Now I can go and have fun."

"I'm happy, you know, about everything I accomplished in life," Ramirez said. "Not everybody has the chance to go and get to 500. I'm just proud to do it."

In his first at-bat, Ramirez hit a fly to the warning track in left field. He then grounded out to third and lined out to left before going deep in his fourth trip to the plate. "I just wanted to get a good swing on the ball all day," Ramirez said. "And I did.""

Before each at-bat by the dreadlocked slugger, plate umpire Bob Davidson was given a special set of baseballs so there would be no confusion over which one was No. 500 if it landed in the seats. The ball was caught by a Red Sox fan, Damon Woo, who presented Ramirez with the ball after the game. Ramirez said he will sell the ball and give the money to charity.

Griffey Gives Dad Great Father's Day Gift

Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 500th home run vs. Matt Morris of the Cincinnati Reds on June 20, 2004.  After hitting number 499, Junior had to wait exactly one week for the fabled No. 500, but the landmark blast couldn't have come on a better day.  Launching his 500th home run on Father's Day was the perfect way for Junior to end his quest, considering that he and his dad, Ken Griffey Sr., are probably the most famous father/son duo in Major League history.

Following the 393-foot solo blast into the stands at Busch Stadium, Junior was immediately swarmed by his teammates. "It's been a lot of fun," Ken Griffey Jr. said. "It was awesome. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever accomplish something like this. All the aches and pains that I've had this year were gone while I rounded the bases."

Junior wasted no time making his way to his dad, who was sitting right next to the Reds dugout. "It's been a great Father's Day for me," Griffey Sr. said. "I had my grandkids sitting there watching the game and I enjoyed every minute of it."
         
Willie McCovey hit his 500th homer for the San Francisco Giants on June 30, 1978 against Braves’ pitcher Jamie Easterley in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium

A relieved Willie Mac said: “There was a lot of pressure on me. A lot of media was following me around and I wanted to get it over with, so I could start playing normally again.  McCovey later remarked, “At the time I hit it I was very exciting because I was a member of the 500 class, but my 512th meant more to me because it meant that I passed Mel Ott to become the National League’s greatest left-handed home run hitter.  That was the biggest milestone for me.”

Willie McCovey
Willie McCovey
At the start of the 1960 season, only three players had hit 500 home runs in their career. On June 17, 1960, this slugger hit his 500th home run, ending a 15-year drought of additions to the 500-homer club. Who was the newest member of the club in 1960, and would finish his career with 521 career home runs?

Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams hit his 500th home run in Cleveland Stadium against Indians pitcher Wynn Hawkins on June 17, 1960.  When asked about his hitting approach, The “Splendid Splinter” explained: "There's only one way to become a hitter. Go up to the plate and get mad. Get mad at yourself and mad at the pitcher. The key to hitting,” Williams continued, “is to get a good pitch and then hit it as hard as you can.”

Sammy Sosa hit the most home runs ever in a single month, when he crushed 20 long balls during June 1998 as a Chicago Cub.

“The Bambino” Babe Ruth holds the record for the most homers by an American leaguer in June.  In 1930, George Herman Ruth his 15 home runs enroute to an MVP season in which his Yankees …

Ken Griffey, Jr. broke Ruth's MLB record for the most home runs by end of June when he hit number 32 …in June of 1994.  But, just as he has with so many other home run records, Barry Bonds shattered this previous high mark when he hit at total of 39 home runs by June 30th 2001.

Although it was their individual achievements which landed Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in The 500 Home Run Club and the MLB Hall of Fame, it was their dynamic duo act that had many claiming that that the 1927 Yankees - nicknamed the “Murderers' Row” - were the greatest team of all time, as they both hit 25 home runs apiece to propel the Bronx Bombers to a 49-20 record at the end of June.




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