Mathews Joined Club in July
Written by Jim Rednour
Wednesday, 01 July 2009
Predicted Hitting 500 HRs Tougher For Future Players
Eddie Mathews, who was best remembered for teaming with the immortal Hank Aaron to form the Braves' one-two punch that dominated the National League in the 1950s and early 1960s, actually preceded “Hammerin’ Hank” into both the 500 Home Run Club (7-14-67) and the National Baseball Hall-Of-Fame (1978).
In an interview shortly after “Steady Eddie” cranked out #500 off of
future Hall-Of-Famer Juan Marichal (SF Giants) to clinch a come from
behind victory for his new team The Houston Astros*, he talked about
what it was like to surpass the milestone and what it would take for
others to do so in the future.
Editor’s Note: Mathews hit the majority of his career homers (493)
during 15 years with his first team The Braves
(Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta). His 500th came on his next to last at-bat
on the Saturday before the 1967 All-Star break.
Although he predicted that others, including “The Killer” Harmon
Killebrew and his old teammate Aaron, would eventually join the ranks,
Mathews said that a young fellow starting out in the major leagues at
the time would find it a little tougher than he did to hit 500 home
The primary reason that Mathews said he believed future players would
find it difficult to hit 500 homers because newer major league
ballparks were being built with larger dimensions than the ones they
replaced. “And the pitching is getting tougher all the time," he added
as a second reason.
The third contributing factor to those looking to chase the 500 mark
was the increase in night games and night travel. "When I came to the
major leagues in 1952, all baseball travel still was by train," Eddie
But, regardless of the obstacles, there will be players coming along to
break the records. "Records have never been that important to me
because no matter what you do, somebody is going to come along and do
better," he said. "Ballplayers are getting better all the time. That is
just the nature of the game."