Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th career home run on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. 

Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the first inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, off Shaun Marcum. It came on a 2-0 pitch with Derek Jeter on first and two out.

Rodriguez had hit only one home run off Marcum in 17 at-bats before Thursday.

Rodriguez became the youngest player in history to join the 600 Club, and the seventh player in baseball history to reach the milestone.

He raised a hand slightly in triumph as he rounded first base, then completed his trot. He joined an elite club that includes Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609).

His 600th HR ended a 12-game homerless slump and came exactly three years to the day after his 500th homer.

Rodriguez’s 17th homer of the season sailed over the center field wall and landed in Monument Park, allowing a stadium worker to fetch him the ball.

After coming out for a curtain call, Rodriguez received congratulations from teammates in the Yankees dugout. Many had raised their arms in joy when he finally connected.

He had gone 46 at-bats between home runs Nos. 599 and 600 — 25 more than Willie Mays, who needed 21 at-bats to reach the milestone in 1970.

A-Rod hit his 599th off Robinson Tejeda of the Kansas City Royals last Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

A-Rod turned 35 last Tuesday, putting his home run pace far ahead of the rest. Ruth had been the youngest to hit 600, reaching the mark in 1931 at 36 years, 196 days. The Sultan of Swat did it in fewer games, though — 2,044 to 2,227 for Rodriguez.

In the three years since hitting No. 500, much has changed for him.

During a tumultuous spring training of 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. He also had major hip surgery that kept him out the first month last year, as the team adjusted to high-profile newcomers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira without him.

He returned with a fresh outlook that put the team first, helping lead the Yankees to their first World Series championship since 2000 and reversing a trend of personal playoff failures.

Even though he went homerless in his first 41 at-bats this year and has connected at a much slower rate compared to the rest of his career, the 13-time All-Star has been saying that No. 600 is merely a springboard to better things — mainly helping his team win, but also reaching Bonds’ record of 762 home runs.

Being the home run king comes with a tarnished crown, though.

DELUX Magazine
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