NEW YORK // Alex Rodriguez added his name to one of Major League Baseball's most exclusive lists when he belted his 600th career home run yesterday, joining Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays among the top seven all-time sluggers. Besides Aaron (755), Ruth (714) and Mays (660) the exclusive club also includes the recently retired Ken Griffey Jr (630), a teammate of Rodriguez's when he broke in with the Seattle Mariners as an 18-year-old shortstop in 1994.
It is a list topped by Barry Bonds with 762 and has Sammy Sosa at 609, two players whose home run totals shot up during baseball's so-called steroids era and whose exploits have been clouded by suspicions of doping. Former players, much like ordinary fans of the game, are split about the authenticity of the current crop of sluggers. "It changes the way we look at records," Bill "Moose" Skowron, 79, the former Yankees first baseman, told Reuters in the Yankees dugout before the recent Old Timers' Day game when asked about the effects of doping on the sport."This is a joke the way it is today."
One Hall of Famer gave this current crop of sluggers their due. "All I know is the results," said Ernie Banks, the 79-year-old former Chicago Cubs great who slugged 512 home runs and holds the National League record for career homers by a shortstop. "You still got to hit the ball. They did it. I don't take anything away from the younger guys. They did it." * Reuters