(Above: National Leaguer Ross Barnes scoffs at small ball)
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Gary Sheffield’s grand slam off of Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez in last night’s 14-8 Tigers win was the quarter-millionth home run in big league baseball history. Number 1, according to historian David Vincent came in 1876 by the Chicago White Stockings’ infielder Ross Barnes off of Cincinnati Red Stockings’ Cherokee Fisher, who may or may not have been “bad for the Jews.”
Not until April 30, 1970, did the total reach 100,000. Atlanta’s Hal King is credited with the milestone hit out of many that day with a homer off the Cubs’ Ferguson Jenkins. It took nearly three decades for the list to double to 200,000, with Paul O’Neill awarded the honors for taking then-Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez deep on June 12, 1999.
The final 50,000 homers, by contrast, have come in a relative flurry of about 9 1/2 years. The list stood at 249,996 entering the night, with four games scheduled to start around the same time at 7:05 p.m. ET. Jason Bay started off the home run parade with a first-inning solo shot off Edwin Jackson in Boston’s 3-0 shutout of Tampa Bay, but the next three homers came in Detroit — all of them off Tigers bats, and all off Gonzalez.
Magglio Ordonez and Sheffield homered in the opening inning to put the total at 249,999. An inning later, Sheffield stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and drove a fastball deep to left for the 496th homer of his career. With the grand slam, he earned himself a place on a Major League homer list before he joins the 500-homer club.