It’s been a while since I heard anybody discuss the idea of Alex Rodriguez catching up to Barry Bonds and breaking the all-time Major League home-run record of 762. I never heard anyone ever discuss the idea of Rodriguez catching up to and matching the Lou Gehrig all-time home-run record.
That’s because I don’t think the average fan knew that other Yankee Lou Gehrig had an all-time home-run record. The record is for the most grand slams in a career and the other day Rodriguez tied it. They both have 23 such blasts in their careers now.
Rodriguez hit a game-tying grand slam on a 3-2 pitch off relief pitcher Jonny Venters as New York defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-4, at Turner Field.
“It means a lot,” Rodriguez said of equaling the record. “It’s very special. Lou Gehrig is not only one of the all-time greats, but he is one of ours.”
There has been a notable fall-off in the current Yankee third-baseman’s power numbers and overall eye for the ball, it seems, but there is at least a half-decent chance Rodriguez can smash one more grand salami before he retires.
Gehrig played from 1923 to 1937, a stretch that included 2,130 straight games. That was a record that people believed would last forever, but along came Cal Ripken Jr. to surpass it quite handily.
Considered probably the greatest first baseman of all time, Gehrig, of course, had a career cut short by the debilitating disease that ultimately bore his name and he died when he was just 37 years in 1941 when he should have still be playing.
Gehrig slammed 493 homers in all and he was a renowned clutch hitter. It was Gehrig, not Babe Ruth, who batted clean-up in the Yankees’ batting order and given the number of homers Ruth swatted its amazing to think that Gehrig posted three seasons with between 174 and 184 RBIs. He led the American League in that category five times. When you collect four RBIs in one swing 23 times, that will help your total.
Besides his 23 grand slams, Rodriguez currently has 639 homers and that ranks him behind Bonds, Hank Aaron (755), Ruth (714), and Willie Mays (660) on the all-time list. He is 36 and it’s not clear how long he will be able to play at a high enough level to maintain his starting job. He’s batting .276 right now, which is serviceable, but far below what he used to routinely bat. Rodriguez’s lifetime average is .301, but he hasn’t finished above .300 since 2008.
It’s a long way to 762, and with Rodriguez’s pace slowing, there are few true believers who think he will catch up to Bonds now.
As for grand slams, that record is impressive, even if no one can name the top group of all-timers off the top of his head. Rodriguez and Gehrig lead the pack with 23 each. Manny Ramirez, still mired in the Oakland Athletics’ minor-league system, is next on the list with 21. Ramirez’s Major League future is pretty cloudy right now.
After Ramirez comes Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, who had 19. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and current White Sox manager RobinVentura, each stroked 18 grand slams. Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams, long gone Hall of Famers, each hit 17.
Any time a grand slam is hit it wakes up the ballpark, brings fans to their feat, and sends an electrical current through the bench. A grand slam is truly the grandest hit in baseball.
Tags: Alex Rodriguez Atlanta Braves Babe Ruth Barry Bonds Eddie Murray Grand Slams.Jonny Venters Hank Aaron Jimmie Foxx Lou Gehrig Major League Home Run Record Manny Ramirez New York Yankees Robin Ventura Ted Williams Turner Field. Cal Ripken Jr. Willie Mays Willie McCovey