Bronx, NY -Alex Rodriguez thrilled a crowd of 46,759 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon by lifting a 2-0 pitch by Sean Marcum of the Blue Jays into Monument Park in center field for his 600th career home run. It was appropriate that historic home run landed in a place of history within the two-year old ballpark. Perhaps, one day the monumental homer will have a plaque in that same area to celebrate it.
The ball did not enter the stands. It was retrieved by a Yankees security guard who returned it to the team. The guard met A-Rod, was given a bat and the two shook hands during a post-game press conference.
Although the 600th career home run by Rodriguez is a very rare occurrence done by only six other major league players, there were some strange similarities between his 500th and 600th. Both were hit on the same date, August 4, three years apart; both were hit in the first inning; Derek Jeter was on base both times; and Phil Hughes was on the mound for the Yankees in both games.
When told the facts by reporters, Jeter laughed and replied, “Same day, same guy on base, some weird things happen.” Hughes said he didn’t see the homer, “I was down in the tunnel trying to get cool.” He was also amused by the similarities, “It was nice to be a part of. Three years to the day [and] I was on the mound. It was kind of cool.”
Of the four other homers A-Rod hit on August 4, one is well-remembered. On August 4, 2004, Rodriguez hit a two-on walk-off home run off Justin Duchscherer in the 11th inning to defeat Oakland.
Rodriguez suffered from a home run drought and a hitting slump since hitting #599 on July 22. He went 46 official at bats between homers. He batted only .196 (9 for 46). Rodriguez was hitless in his last 17 at bats before homering in the first. At a lengthy press conference after the gam, he admitted, “I was pressing, trying to get it over with.”
A-Rod found the time between homers to be difficult, “[The two weeks] really haven’t been a lot of fun. I’ve been doing a lot of talking and not so much on the field.” Although it seemed like a long wait to many fans, for those who attended Wednesday’s game it came early. Rodriguez was the seventh batter to come to the plate when he hit the home run.
Rodriguez is the youngest in age of the seven in the 600 home run club. At the age of 35 years and eight days, Rodriguez was one year and 188 days younger than the previous youngest, Babe Ruth. Yankee manager Joe Girardi noted some of the reasons Rodriguez accomplished the rare feat at so early an age, “He’s been consistent; he’s been healthy; he came up at an early age. So much depends on health itself.
When asked if Rodriguez will break Barry Bonds home run mark of 762, Girardi and Rodriguez were evasive. The skipper stated, “I don’t know where he’s going to end up.” He does believe the home run pace will slow down as Rodriguez is aging and will get more days off than in the past. A-Rod said, “[The record] is not on my radar screen.”