‘Big Papi’ is probably the most popular Dominican ever to set foot in Boston. The San Domingo native made the city his home after arriving from Minnesota in 2003. Over the next 13 seasons, he became one of the franchise’s best players. A three-time World Series champion, he joined the 500 home run club in 2015 after years of slugging it out at the top.
However, that’s not why Boston fans remember Ortiz. Sure he was a brilliant hitter but he was also a fantastic personality. His speech after the Boston Marathon Bombing was visceral and hard-hitting, showing his true dedication to the city via ESPN. It’s rare that a foreign player makes a city believe that he cares as Ortiz did. Of course, it helped that he was a brilliant talent too.
Former San Francisco slugger McCovey enjoyed 19 seasons with the Giants. A franchise legend, he entered the 500 Home Run Club in 1978. McCovey’s stature and physical gifts made him a ferocious opponent. He had extremely long arms and was very tall. These attributes combined to give him a powerful swing. He made the Hall of Fame in 1986 (via Sports Illustrated) before he passed in 2018.
Many people believe that if he played on a smoother surface than in Candlestick Park he would have hit even more home runs. Nonetheless, he was the 1969 ML MVP and was a six-time All-Star. McCovey’s teammates held him in high regard and he kept a low profile after his retirement. In many ways, he was the perfect first baseman.
A 21-season MLB veteran, Jackson was one of the finest sluggers of his day. He was exceptionally well-rounded and helped both Oakland and the Yankees to remarkable success. Jackson won five World Series titles and was a two-time series MVP. He was so good because he came up trumps when it counted in the most clutch of scenarios.
That’s how he earned the nickname ‘Mr. October.’ In 1977, he hit three home runs in his iconic Game Six of the World Series win over the Dodgers (via Imagine Sports). He entered the 500 home run club seven years later against the California Angels. Jackson’s longevity enabled him to break many records at the top of the sport. He was also a charismatic and passionate personality.
Murray didn’t spend his entire career in Baltimore but he spent long enough there to seal his status as a franchise icon. He hit his 500th homer in 1996 and the Orioles marked it in style. They placed an orange seat in the stands in the place where the ball landed (via MASN Sports). This was a clearly deserving touch for a tremendous player.
As well as securing 500 home runs, Murray also made over 3000 hits. Meanwhile, he was a strong all-rounder as he helped himself to three Gold Glove awards. After retirement, Murray returned to Baltimore and continued to do a lot of community work for the Orioles. He wanted to give back after an amazing career with the franchise.
Killebrew was a powerful switch hitter who spent 22 seasons in the Big Leagues. He finished his career with a year in Kansas City but he only played for the Twins before this. In 1969, he won the AL MVP award after a stunning year. It took him four years of eligibility (via Twins Almanac) before the Baseball Writers finally inducted him into the Hall of Fame. But he deserves his place.
A 13-time All-Star, Killebrew hit his 500th home run in 1971. Killebrew was a massive slugger. He whacked records in Baltimore and Minnesota in stunning fashion. Meanwhile, he wasn’t a diva unlike Babe Ruth and other Big League personalities. Killebrew kept himself to himself and was an extremely calm player.
Many fans call Banks the greatest Cub of all time (via Bleed Cubbie Blue). With this in mind, it’s wild to think what he may have achieved if it wasn’t for injuries. ‘Mr. Sunshine’ was a two-time NL MVP and won the Gold Glove in 1960. He hit his 500th home run in 1970. It was a nice accolade and one that he deserved because he had to fight through the pain to get there.
He hit 12 more home runs before he started coaching the following season. Unfortunately, Banks’ knees were his worst enemy. They held him back and prevented him from being one of the greatest Major Leaguers ever. The second half of his career suffered a severe decline compared to his first. But he already earned his place in history.
Matthews was one of the 1950s’ big-league superstars. While Hank Aaron has the strongest reputation of players from this era, Matthews was excellent in his own right. He helped lead the Milwaukee Braves to a pair of World Series titles and was a ferocious slugger (via Baseball Hall). Statistically, he’s the second-best third baseman in Major League history.
The 12-time All-Star hit more than 40 homers in four seasons. Meanwhile, he joined the 500 home run club after joining the Houston Astros. He was past his prime at this point but still a solid option. The Hall of Famer coached Atlanta for a couple of seasons before leaving full-time baseball. Aaron of course deserves his plaudits, but Matthews was another Braves great too.
Many Red Sox fans argue that Ramirez was a top-five right-handed hitter (via Boston.com). His 29 postseason homers are a Major League record. But he also received multiple long suspensions for steroid use. The reason he’s in the middle of this list is that his achievements balance out the cheating. But it’s hard to justify putting him higher than this because of his tainted steroid record.
Ramirez retired with an excellent .312 batting average. But he also quit for the first point because he didn’t want to sit through a 100-game suspension. In 2008, he made the 500 home run club against the Baltimore Orioles. Ramirez has a PED cloud over his head but was also undeniably a great talent. That’s why he’s so difficult to assess.
One of the Cleveland Indians’ greatest-ever players, Thome represented the franchise with distinction for 11 seasons. He continued to play for the next decade as he went on a nomadic tour of the league. Furthermore, Thome was an exceptional power hitter with 612 home runs and 2,328 career hits (via Sports Spectrum). He made the Hall of Fame in 2018 after voters recognized his phenomenal career achievements.
Thome was the eighth player to break the 600 home run mark. A five-time All-Star, he also has a single Silver Slugger award to his name. Thome was also massive fan favorite because of his community work. It didn’t matter how long he stayed with a franchise, he always worked with charities and tried to help.
In 2021, Cabrera sealed his place in baseball history. The Detroit superstar became the latest member of the 500 home run club with his swing against the Toronto Blue Jays. This made him the first Venezuelan to achieve the feat (via Inside Hook). A living legend, Cabrera is one of the most gifted players of his generation. He was arguably the best before Mike Trout’s rise to stardom.
Cabrera was a two-time MVP after back-to-back successes in 2012 and 2013. The 11-time All-Star won the World Series with the Marlins in 2003. His success shows the influence of South American athletes on the sport over the past couple of decades. Cabrera entered the Club at the age of 38 and remains a great player for the Tigers.
We can’t rank A-Rod higher because of his ties to the Biogenesis Scandal. In 2014, he confessed to the DEA that he used PEDs (via The Miami Herald) throughout his career. Despite this, it’s difficult not to respect his glittering achievements. A 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, he also had two Gold Gloves to his name and was a three-time AL MVP (via CNN).
Rodriguez isn’t just a member of the 500 home run club. He also became the youngest player to break 600 home runs when he hit the magic number in 2010. While the last few years of his career were a farce, Rodriguez’s numbers are remarkable. It’s unfortunate but Cooperstown will never look at him now because of his steroid use. But that’s on him.
Thomas spent the first 15 seasons of his career with the White Sox where he established himself as a legend. His .301 batting average says a lot but unfortunately, he never won a World Series because he missed the entire 2005 postseason. But he still achieved a lot in his career. As an individual, he was superb and won the Silver Slugger Award four times.
Meanwhile, he joined the 500 home run club in 2007 when he was on the Blue Jays roster. He achieved the feat against the Minnesota Twins. Another of Thomas’s most noteworthy traits was his strict anti-steroid stance (via The Chicago Sun-Times). This made him an anomaly at the height of the Steroid Era and a reason why many fans love him. This five-time All-Star had a very strong personality.
Robinson set so many records that it’s difficult to know where to start. Obviously, he was a member of the 500 home run club but achieved so much more. His most famous achievement is probably being the only player to win the NL and AL MVP awards. He did so when he played effectively for the Orioles and Reds. This showed his consistent excellence.
He joined the club when he hit two home runs in a 1971 series against the Tigers. Two games took him over the line. After he retired from playing, Robinson set another milestone. He became the first black manager in Major League Baseball history (via Observer) when he took the Cleveland Indians job. As well as two World Series wins, he also had 14 All-Star awards to his name.
Ott was the first National Leaguer to break the barrier of 500 home runs. He did so at his beloved Polo Grounds in 1945. The Louisiana native wasn’t a big man but he was a deceptively effective slugger. A World Series winner in 1933, Ott was also a 12-time All-Star. Meanwhile, he spent his entire career with the New York Yankees and made the Hall of Fame.
Many fans believe that Ott was one of the best players never to win an MVP award. This was despite his frightening .304 batting average and he also led the league in home runs and walks on six occasions (via Baseball Reference). Ott had the strangest wind-up because he looked more like a pitcher than a batter. But make no mistake, he was lethal with an ash bat in his hands.
Definitely the greatest player in Philadelphia Phillies history, Schmidt was a force in his 17 Major League seasons. He was even arguably the best baseball player of the 1980s (via The Sporting News). In 13 of his 18 seasons, he hit at least 30 home runs. That’s why he’s among the best third baseman in history. A 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, he spent his entire career in Philadelphia. They never had a player like him before and may never again.
A three-time NL MVP, Schmidt hit his 500th home run in 1987. He won a World Series with his franchise in 1980 and enjoyed almost every possible accolade. After retirement, he mostly retreated from public life. He only reappeared to accept honors like his Hall of Fame selection. Schmidt was a phenomenal talent and a true franchise leader.
Pujols wasn’t at his most effective when he reached 500 home runs, but he endured long enough to make it. At his peak, he was one of the best hitters in the game, with a batting average of .328. However, this dropped as he aged and left the Cardinals. Despite this, Pujols was still a force and an excellent player. That’s why he’s only the fourth player ever to break 600 home runs and 3000 hits (via Sports Illustrated).
The two-time World Series champion was also a 10-time All-Star. He won the Gold Glove award twice as well as the Silver Slugger on six occasions. Pujols left St. Louis in style after winning his second Series with the franchise. Then, he played for several seasons with the Angels and Dodgers.
Some would argue Bonds should be higher up this list because of his ludicrous records. However, others will put him near the bottom because he clearly cheated to rack up more home runs. That’s why we’ve put him near the middle. There’s a reason why Bonds will never enter the shrine at Cooperstown. But at the same time, his physical gifts played a part in his stunning achievements.
Bonds leads MLB with the most homers ever. But it’s too bad the league commissioner didn’t even bother to watch him hit it because he knew it stank. He thumped his 500th in 2001 while he was on the Giants’ roster. Then he went on to smack another 262. The 14-time All-Star is also the only MLB player with over 500 stolen bases as well as home runs (via Detroit Sports Nation). It’s a mesmerizing achievement but unfortunately it’s also very tainted.
Mantle was an extraordinary offensive threat and held many records until the rise of Mike Trout. The Yankees’ center fielder holds the record for most homers in World Series history with a stunning 18 (via The New York Times). It’s no surprise that he reached over 500 home runs overall. The landmark hit came in 1967 when he became the sixth member of this legendary group.
Alcoholism was one of Mantle’s many demons but it didn’t hold him back when he played ball. As well as being a brilliant player, Mantle was also a great teammate. Nobody he played with had a bad word to say about him because of the effort he made. In the end, the seven-time World Series champion retired as one of the Yankees’ greatest-ever players.
Foxx was only the second player in history to make the 500 Home Run Club (via The Society For American Baseball Research). He followed Babe Ruth into this iconic brotherhood when he played for the Boston Red Sox in 1940. The Hall of Famer overcame George Caster to seal his name in the record books for eternity. Meanwhile, he was also the youngest major leaguer to achieve this feat for almost 70 years.
A nine-time All-Star, Foxx also has two World Series wins on his outstanding record. With a batting average of .325, he was one of the most prolific hitters of his day. “Double X” hit at least 30 home runs in 12 consecutive seasons. Any baseball fan will appreciate that kind of consistency because it is so rare. Sadly, his retirement was less successful than his days as a professional athlete.
A magnificent centerfielder, Griffey was an outstanding hitter. He represented the Seatle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds with great success. The 13-time All-Star earned his place in the 500 Home Runs Club in 2004. In a beautiful twist, it was Father’s Day and his own dad was there in attendance. Because of this, it was an extra special day for the family. Griffey was extremely prolific before injuries took their toll.
He was the youngest player ever to hit 350, 400, and 450 homers (via Baseball Almanac) but then he slowed down. However, he still reached a grand total of 630 before he left the sport. The 10-time Gold Glove winner was a unanimous Hall of Fame pick in 2016. It was no surprise because Griffey was one of the greatest players of his generation. His defensive capabilities also made him a very balanced player.
Sadly, Williams lost several years of his career to the military. The navy drafted him during World War II and he spent time in the naval reserve. While it was an honor to serve his country, he missed out on some of his prime. Despite this, he still joined the 500 Home Runs Club in 1960. Even Babe Ruth believed Williams was one of the most natural hitters (via The New Yorker) in the sport because he was so good.
He wrapped up his career with a total of 521 home runs but his final one was one of the greatest in Major League history. The military stalled his progress again when they called him up for the Korean War. He saw active service and won the Air Medal with two gold stars after a bombing raid. Williams never won a World Series but he was a Red Sox legend and a true Hall of Famer.
Aaron endured extensive racism on his way to becoming one of baseball’s greatest players. He became of baseball’s most exclusive club when he smashed his 500th in 1968. Then, in 1974, he passed Babe Ruth to beat the all-time record. Of course, Barry Bonds eventually overtook Aaron, but that came with a giant asterisk. Aaron’s personal achievements were more impressive because there was no hint of wrongdoing.
His consistency was unbelievable because he hit at least 20 homers in 20 of his 22 seasons (via The Seattle Times). A 25-time All-Star, Aaron also won the World Series in 1957 with the Braves. As well as passing home run records, Aaron also received more mail than anybody except U.S. politicians. Fans loved and hated him in equal measure because of who he represented. However, he had the last laugh in the end.
Mays had a magnificent career in San Francisco and was a 12-time Gold Glove winner. His total of 660 home runs is a testament to his abilities. In 1965, he landed his 500th but showed no signs of slowing down. That same season he had a career-best 52 home runs. However, this was a renaissance of sorts because it came 10 years after his previous record of 51 home runs.
Meanwhile, Mays lands this high because of his cultural status as one of baseball’s greatest-ever players. The 24-time All-Star (via Desert Sun) retired with a .302 batting average. He also won a single World Series with the Giants and led the NL in stolen bases on four occasions. Also, Mays paved the way for black baseball players after reintegration. Because of this, he’s one of the most important players in the sport’s history.
It’s a toss-up between Ruth and Mays for the top spot, but we went with the former. Ruth was one of baseball’s first power hitters even though he began life as a pitcher. His 22-year career was one of the greatest ever because he set so many records. He hit a total of 714 home runs (via How They Play) before his retirement. However, this total came before re-integration so that should be taken into consideration.
Ruth split his career between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. In 1927, Ruth hit a stunning 60 home runs in his most prolific season. Furthermore, he was one of the sport’s first major superstars. He became a celebrity and a cultural icon over time. He won three World Series and led the league in home runs on 12 occasions. Ruth retains his mystique because of his consistent brilliance.