The newest member of the 500 Home Run Club.
The newest member of the 500 Home Run Club.

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:

Hank Aaron755
Babe Ruth714
Willie Mays660
Barry Bonds623 (and counting)
Frank Robinson586
Mark McGwire583
Harmon Killebrew573
Reggie Jackson563
Mike Schmidt548
Mickey Mantle536
Jimmie Foxx534
Willie McCovey521
Ted Williams521
Ernie Banks512
Eddie Mathews512
Mel Ott511
Sammy Sosa505 (and counting)
Eddie Murray504

Active players who are almost certain to reach 500 include Fred McGriff (483), Ken Griffey, Jr. (469) and Juan Gonzalez (417).

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).