x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Once exclusive, 400 home runs no longer so remarkable

Paul Konerko became the 48th major leaguer to hit 400 home runs on Wednesday, but the milestone is not all that special anymore.

While Paul Konerko used his influence to help make testing for performance-enhancing drugs standard in major league clubhouses, the steroid era has made reaching 400 career home runs not the milestone it used to be. But Konerko's blast Wednesday to reach that plateau is still special.
While Paul Konerko used his influence to help make testing for performance-enhancing drugs standard in major league clubhouses, the steroid era has made reaching 400 career home runs not the milestone it used to be. But Konerko's blast Wednesday to reach that plateau is still special.

Carroll Rogers

Paul Konerko, the Chicago White Sox first baseman, became the 48th major leaguer to hit 400 home runs when he launched one off the Oakland Athletics' reliever Grant Balfour on Wednesday.

But the milestone is not all that special anymore.

Only 27 players had ever reached 400 home runs when iron man Cal Ripken joined the club with the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. That made it 27 players in more than a century.

But in the 13 years since, 21 players have reached the mark, having come of age in the steroid era. The club almost doubled in size in a little over a decade. Seven members of the 400 club are still active, including Alex Rodriguez (632), Jim Thome (604), Chipper Jones (457), Albert Pujols (445), Jason Giambi (428) and Andruw Jones (422).

Ironically, it was Konerko who used his influence in the White Sox clubhouse to help encourage Major League Baseball to change its testing policies. According to the Chicago Tribune, Konerko was one of 16 White Sox players who planned to refuse a screening test in the spring of 2003, knowing MLB would count them as positives in a tally to determine if testing was warranted in the future.

The gesture was meant to make a point, since MLB agreed to further testing if more than five per cent of players tested positive. The players' union ultimately persuaded those 16 players to be tested, but the point was made.

And Konerko did as much as he could with a bat to make the 400 club exclusive again.

 

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