Only 19 players in the history of baseball have managed to hit 500 or more home runs in their major league career and Rafael Palmeiro is the newest member of this elite power club. On May 11, 2003 Palmeiro cracked his landmark blast against the Cleveland Indians and almost assured his future enshrinement in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Palmeiro is an 18-year veteran of major league ball and currently plays first base for the Texas Rangers. He tries to make ends meet with an annual salary of $9,379,000 plus lucrative endorsement contracts. He is perhaps more famous for his Viagra commercials ("I take batting practice. I take fielding practice. I take Viagra.") than for his exploits on the field.
Palmeiro was a highly-touted prospect in college, leading Mississippi State to the College World Series. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs and made his major league debut in 1986. In his first four full seasons (1987-90) he never hit more than 14 round-trippers, but he flipped on the power switch in 1991 with 26 home runs and hasn't let up since. He hit more than 40 homers in four of the past five years and already has reached double digits in 2003.
At age 38 Palmeiro may be nearing the end of his career, but three more quality seasons could push his lifetime home run total near the 600 mark. Here are the other members of the 500 home run club:
|Barry Bonds||623 (and counting)|
|Sammy Sosa||505 (and counting)|
Active players who are almost certain to reach 500 include Fred McGriff (483), Ken Griffey, Jr. (469) and Juan Gonzalez (417).