500 HRC Members In Tune With June
Written by Jim Rednour   
Thursday, 26 May 2011

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

Chicago Cub Superstar “Slammin” Sammy Sosa hit the most home runs ever in a single month, when he homered, hopped, thumped his chest and blew kisses to family and fans a total of 20 times during June of 1998.  On June 1, “Big Mac” Mark McGwire had 27 home runs, while Sosa had a mere 13 dingers. But soon, “Slammin” Sammy made his move. From June 1-June 30, Sosa belted 20 home runs to set a Major League record, which is also the most homers ever hit in any month. 

Editor’s Note:  After that jaw-dropping June, it became clear that both McGwire and Sosa were on pace to shatter Roger Maris's single-season home run record. The question was: Who would get there first? McGwire answered emphatically by besting Maris's record on September 8 against the Cubs and cruising to a new MLB high of 70 home runs - while Sosa finished with 66 that year. Barry Bonds eventually passed both of them with 73 blasts in 2001, but 1998 will always be remembered as the year of the “Great Home Run Chase.”

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.  

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."

Editor’s Note:  Junior loves June so much that he also blasted out homer #600 during the sixth month of the year - June 10, 2008 to be precise. That was the day Griffey became the sixth player in history to reach 600 homers with a drive off Mark Hendrickson in the first inning of the Cincinnati Reds’ 9-4 victory over the Florida Marlins.  Griffey joined Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa as the only players to reach the mark.
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 I passed Mel Ott to become the National League’s greatest left-handed home run hitter.  That was the biggest milestone for me.”

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.”