Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Palmeiro hits 500th career home run

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL The Texas Ranger knocked out a three-run homer in the seventh inning against the Indians. He now joins an elite club that includes the Babe

AP , ARLINGTON, TEXASAND MIAMI, FLORIDA

Rafael Palmeiro of the Texas Rangers, center, is congratulated by teammates Ruben Sierra, left, and Michael Young after hitting his 500th career home run in the seventh inning of play against the Cleveland Indians in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday. Palmeiro became only the 19th player in major league baseball history to collect 500 career home runs.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Texas slugger Rafael Palmeiro hit his 500th career homer in his last chance to get it at home.

Palmeiro hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Cleveland right-hander David Elder to become the second player to reach the milestone this season as the Rangers beat the Indians 17-10 Sunday.

Every member of the 500-homer club eligible for the Hall of Fame has been elected to the shrine, including some of the greatest sluggers ever in Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.

"Obviously I've hit 500 home runs, so I belong in the 500 club," Palmeiro said. "But talk about names like Mantle and Ruth and Williams, I'm not as good as they ever were. Those guys were the greatest of all-time. I've just been able to string together some years and I've been healthy and I've gotten here."

Palmeiro hit No. 500 in the seventh inning in his final at-bat before heading on a six-game road trip. With the crowd standing in anticipation, Palmeiro hit a full-count fastball from David Elder over the right-field fence.

"It felt like a big giant gorilla just jumped off my back," Palmeiro said. "I wanted to do it here. It almost feels like it would have been a big letdown not to."

Palmeiro followed Sammy Sosa into the 500-club. Sosa did it last month, making the third time two players have hit the historic homer in the same season. Mickey Mantle and Eddie Mathews did it in 1967, and Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson in 1971.

Fireworks exploded in the daylight sky and the crowd broke out into a loud and extended ovation as Palmeiro rounded the bases. Like all of his previous homers, there was no posing and no strutting after the ball left the bat.

In other AL games, it was Oakland 5, New York 2; Minnesota 9, Boston 8; Toronto 4, Anaheim 2; Seattle 7, Chicago 2; Kansas City 8, Baltimore 5; and Detroit 9, Tampa Bay 2.

The Florida Marlins made Jack McKeon a winner in his first game as their manager Sunday, when Luis Castillo went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer to help beat the Colorado Rockies 7-2.

"We'll go undefeated with him from now on," joked Mike Lowell, who hit his 10th home run.

Doubtful. But Marlins management thought the team was underachieving with Jeff Torborg in charge, so he was fired late Saturday after a 16-22 start and seven losses in eight games.

In came McKeon, who has managed four other teams and barely had time to introduce himself to his new players before Florida took the field. He was still struggling to remember some of their names afterward.

"I'm like a kid with a new toy," said McKeon, the oldest manager in the majors. "I felt good about today. I felt I had a tremendous rapport with the guys."

In other National League games, it was: Atlanta 7, San Francisco 3; Los Angeles 4, Montreal 3; New York 3, San Diego 2; Cincinnati 7, Milwaukee 5; Arizona 2, Pittsburgh 1; and Houston 10, Philadelphia 7.

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