Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st career home run Thursday, moving past Willie Mays for sole possession of fourth place on the all-time home run list.
The milestone homer came in the bottom of the third inning on a 1-1 pitch from the Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Tillman – a changeup that remained up in the zone and was promptly sent sailing over the left center-field fence.
Now, only Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) remain ahead of Rodriguez on the all-time home run list.
But despite the magnitude of Rodriguez’s accomplishment, the congratulatory high-fives from teammates and the standing ovation from the Yankee faithful, the festive anticipation/celebration that normally surrounds these types of baseball milestones has been significantly subdued nationally. It’s because the 39-year-old is in the midst of rehabilitating his image after a 162 game suspension was levied against him last season for his connection to Biogenesis, a Miami clinic that supplied performance-enhancing drugs to a number of baseball players.
Rodriguez’s link to PEDs has tarnished his legacy in the minds of many baseball fans, and the fact that he passed a legend like Mays only infuriates them, or at the very least leaves them disinterested.
However, after a rough year in which his career hit rock bottom, Rodriguez still finds himself in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup this season as a designated hitter, hitting .245 with seven home runs and 16 RBI. His contribution at his age has been instrumental to the Yankees’ surprising early-season success – first place in the wide open AL East at 18-11.
Will Rodriguez ever change the public’s opinion about him? Probably not. But his 661st home run is still a notable moment in baseball history.
Check out the video of the milestone below, and let us know what you think in the comment section.
Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images