Mathews Joined Club in July Print E-mail
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 runs.

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 said.    

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."





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