erik lundegaard


Saturday September 24, 2022

No. 700

I'd say touch 'em all, Albert, but I think he knows the routine by now.

Four times in Major League Baseball history someone's hit a 700th homerun—three in my lifetime:

  • Babe Ruth, July 13, 1934, vs. Detroit's Tommy Bridges, 3rd inning, one man on
  • Henry Aaron, July 21, 1973, vs. Philadelphia's Ken Brett, 3rd inning, one man on
  • Barry Bonds, Sept. 17, 2004, vs. San Diego's Jake Peavy, 3rd inning, leadoff
  • Albert Pujols, Sept. 23, 2022, vs. Los Angeles' Phil Bickford, 4th inning, two men on

Interesting it's only been two months, and two innings. Everyone was pretty consistent on the inning until Albert showed up. To be fair, he also hit one in the 3rd inning yesterday. He hit two. He's the first guy to hit two homers the day he hit his 700th.

I don't really remember Aaron's, I just remember the pursuit. I wrote about it back then for Kid's Life (5th grade version), which I wrote about here when Aaron died. I believe I was on the east coast when it happened, maybe Rehoboth Beach, Del. That was the summer we spent about two months on the east coast. I might not even have seen the newspaper. We saw the newspapers less when we traveled, though I would've gravitated toward the sports section immediately if I had. But I might've missed that day.

Bonds' pursuit just filled me with dread. It felt inevitable and wrong and I hated every second of it. It felt like a crime. It still does.

As for Uncle Albert? Just a few months ago, for the Opening Day slideshow of active leaders, I wrote: “Albert's No. 1 [in active homers] with 679. Does he have 21 more in him? Last year, split between So Cal teams, he hit 17.” That was all I wrote because I had no idea. If I'd had to put money on it, I would've bet no. But he's had a helluva farewell season back in St. Louis. The Cards are smart. They're using him judiciously, most often against lefties, whom he's crushing: .355/.405/.764. Against righties it's tougher: .209/.297/.384. Bickford, though, is a rightie. No. 699 was off a lefty, Andrew Heaney, who ran into trouble in the 4th. Down 2-0, he got two outs but let two men on (walk, single), and I guess Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts didn't want to risk the matchup with Albert again. Which is smart. But it didn't matter. Boom. Cards take a 5-zip lead, all on Albert's back, and win it 11-0.

Was it too early? It's the wrong question, a spoiled question, but I'll ask it anyway. Not sure where the drama is now. He's fourth all-time in homers (has been for a few weeks since he passed A-Rod at 696) but he's not passing Ruth. Not in homeruns anyway. But RBIs? He's just six behind Ruth, 2208 vs. 2214, for second there, to Aaron, who's out of reach.

700 is a magic number, only slightly tarred by Bonds and Pat Robertson. Enjoy it. We won't see its like again for decades.

Posted at 10:52 AM on Saturday September 24, 2022 in category Baseball