Apr 29, 2009

Sheffield Joins Staub & Cobb; As Only Three Players To HR As Teens & Over 40

Last week Gary Sheffield became the 25th player in baseball history to hit his 500th home run. In the age of steroids, small ball parks & lots of home runs that number isn't as rare as it use to be. It's still a milestone that only a select few have reached, and makes us respect more, those players pre nineteen eighties who accomplished the feat.

Scheffield also became only the third player to ever hit home runs as a teen ager & past the age of forty. The first was Ty Cobb; in 1905 at age 19 he hit his first and only HR of the season, it was also the only season he didn't bat over .300. Then 21 years later while still with Detroit he hit one at age 40 in 1926. While playing his last season with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cobb hit his only HR of that season and the last of his career at age 42. Cobb played in an era where HRs were not a big part of the game, he still hit 117 in his career and batted .366 lifetime, best of all time.

The second player to do it was Rusty Staub. On June 3, 1963 a 19 year old Rusty Staub hit his 1st MLB HR off Don Drysdale of the Dodgers. The event occurred at Colts Stadium, while Staub was playing for the Houston Colt 45's who would become the Houston Astros. Rustys HR was the difference in the game as Houston beat L.A. 2-1.

Then in 1984, at the age of 40 Rusty was in his second stint with the Mets and was one of baseballs best pinch hitters. In the bottom of the 9th inning on September 25, 1984 Rusty came to bat with a runner on base and the score tied 4-4. Facing Larry Anderson of the Phillies, "Le Grande Orange" hit a walk off game winning HR, to the delight of the Shea fans & his team mates. The HR gave Ed Lynch the victory in relief of Ron Darling. It would be the only HR for Staub that season and he would hit one more in 1985 giving him 292 in his 22 year career.

Gary Sheffield hit his 1st MLB HR as a member of the 1988 Milwaukee Brewers, then in the American League. Back then he was known as the teen aged, nephew of Dwight Gooden. 500 HRs later he becomes the 3rd player to HR as a teen & over 40 while wearing his Uncle's old teams uniform, the Mets. On Friday April 17, 2009 at Citi Field, Shef hit #500 of Mitch Setter of the team he started out with; Milwaukee. He has played for eight teams, the Brewers, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, some other NY team, Marlins, Tigers & Mets.

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