The 500-homer mark has stood as one of baseball’s most famous milestones since the days of Babe Ruth. Requiring both massive year-to-year production and longevity, throughout various offensive climates as eras came and went, the 500 Home Run Club remains quite exclusive: Fewer than 30 of the nearly 20,000 players in big league history can call themselves members.
Here’s a rundown of the 27 sluggers who crushed at least 500 dingers.
1) Barry Bonds: 762
500th HR: April 17, 2001
Bonds’ age-35 through -39 seasons that began the 21st century -- including his single-year record 73 homers in 2001, the year he knocked No. 500 -- is perhaps the most dominant stretch by any player. He passed Hank Aaron to take the top spot on the all-time list on August 7, 2007.
2) Hank Aaron: 755
500th HR: July 14, 1968
Aaron was the model of consistency, clubbing at least 20 homers in a record 20 of his 22 full big league seasons. He overcame racist taunts and death threats to famously pass Babe Ruth on April 8, 1974.
3) Babe Ruth: 714
500th HR: Aug. 11, 1929
Ruth was the first slugger to reach 500 homers, and it would take 11 years for anyone else to reach the milestone. Of course, the Great Bambino was also the first player to hit Nos. 200, 300, 400, 600 and 700.
4) Alex Rodriguez: 696
500th HR: Aug. 4, 2007
Rodriguez became the youngest player to hit 500 homers when he knocked the milestone tater at Yankee Stadium at 32 years and eight days of age. He also joined Mickey Mantle as only the second player to hit his 500th homer in the Bronx.
5) Willie Mays: 660
500th HR: Sept. 13, 1965
Mays hit his 500th blast during a career-best 52-homer campaign for the Giants in 1965. That came 10 years after he clubbed 51 for the Giants in 1955, the longest stretch between 50-homer seasons for any player.
6) Albert Pujols: 656
500th HR: April 22, 2014
Pujols crushed his 499th and 500th career homers in the same game against Washington, becoming the third-youngest player to reach the milestone. The 445 homers Pujols belted with the Cardinals from 2001-11 are the most struck by any player across his first 11 big league seasons.
7) Ken Griffey Jr.: 630
500th HR: June 20, 2004
“The Kid” knocked No. 500 on Father’s Day with his father, Ken Sr., in attendance at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Griffey was, at one time, the youngest player to reach 350, 400 and 450 homers before injuries slowed his pace.
8) Jim Thome: 612
500th HR: Sept. 16, 2007
Thome picked a great time for his 500th dinger, knocking it off Angels reliever Dustin Moseley in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off, two-run shot on the South Side of Chicago. He finished his career with 13 walk-off homers, an MLB record.
9) Sammy Sosa: 609
500th HR: April 4, 2003
Sosa remains the only player with three different 60-homer seasons, memorably knocking 66 in 1998 as both he and Mark McGwire surpassed Roger Maris’ longtime single-season record. The Dominican native became the first player born outside the United States to reach 500 homers, quickly followed by Rafael Palmeiro (Cuba) just over a month later.
10) Frank Robinson: 586
500th HR: Sept. 13, 1971
Robinson, who famously won an MVP Award with both the NL’s Reds and the AL’s Orioles, also became the first player to knock at least 200 dingers in each league. He hit No. 499 in the first inning of the first game of an Orioles’ doubleheader against the Tigers, and No. 500 in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2.
11) Mark McGwire: 583
500th HR: Aug. 5, 1999
McGwire jacked 49 homers in 1987 to set the single-season rookie record, and became a national household name when he outslugged Sammy Sosa and briefly set the all-time mark with 70 dingers in ‘98. His 500th blast came the following summer and made him the quickest player to reach the total in terms of games played.
12) Harmon Killebrew: 573
500th HR: Aug. 10, 1971
Killebrew waited 16 agonizing games after hitting his 499th career homer, and then suddenly knocked Nos. 500 and 501 in back-to-back at-bats. He hit more dingers than anyone else during the 1960s and, at the time of his retirement, stood in elite company atop the career leaderboard alongside Aaron, Ruth, Mays and Robinson.
13) Rafael Palmeiro: 569
500th HR: May 11, 2003
Palmeiro knocked his milestone shot on Mother’s Day as part of a 17-10 slugfest victory for the Rangers. He got a tip of the cap from Indians hitting coach Eddie Murray, the man he would pass on the all-time list roughly one month later.
14) Reggie Jackson: 563
500th HR: Sept. 17, 1984
Jackson’s 500th homer, as a member of the Angels in a loss to the Kansas City Royals, came on the 17th anniversary of his very first homer. He hit that one for the Kansas City A’s in a game against the Angels.
15) Manny Ramirez: 555
500th HR: May 31, 2008
Ramirez missed out on knocking No. 500 on his 36th birthday by just one day, crushing the milestone off submariner Chad Bradford at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. Ramirez wrote the No. 34 on his batting helmet in honor of teammate David Ortiz, who exited the game with a wrist injury, before hitting that 500th homer.
16) Mike Schmidt: 548
500th HR: April 18, 1987
Schmidt, like Thome, saved his milestone for when his team really needed it, crushing No. 500 on a 3-0 count with the Phillies down to their final out against the Pirates. One of baseball’s greatest third baseman happened to finish that game at shortstop -- one of just 24 games in which he appeared at that position.
17) David Ortiz: 541
500th HR: Sept. 12, 2015
Ortiz joined Pujols as the second player to check off Nos. 499 and 500 in the same contest, knocking his milestone at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field -- a ballpark where he went deep more times (35) than any other visiting player.
18) Mickey Mantle: 536
500th HR: May 14, 1967
Mantle is as synonymous as anyone with hitting tape-measure home runs, and he holds the all-time record of 18 career World Series homers on top of the 536 he hit in regular-season play. The Mick retired third on the all-time list behind Ruth and Mays.
19) Jimmie Foxx: 534
500th HR: Sept. 24, 1940
For five years, the only names in the 500 club were Ruth and Foxx. “Double X” hit his milestone in the same inning that Ted Williams, Joe Cronin and Jim Tabor also went deep against Philadelphia, Foxx’s former club.
20-T) Frank Thomas: 521
500th HR: June 28, 2007
Thomas’ 500th blast came at the Metrodome (the place where he hit his very first homer in 1990) against the team he tormented the most (52 career dingers against the Twins). “The Big Hurt” authored the first 40-homer season in White Sox history in 1993, the year in which he won the first of his back-to-back AL MVP awards.
20-T) Willie McCovey: 521
500th HR: June 30, 1978
Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson once said of McCovey, “If you let him bat 600 times and pitched to him instead of around him, he’d hit 80 home runs.” The lefty drew a ton of respect from pitchers, including 260 intentional walks -- baseball’s fifth-highest career total.
20-T) Ted Williams: 521
500th HR: June 17, 1960
Many believe Williams could have challenged Ruth’s former record of 714 home runs if he hadn’t lost several of his prime seasons to service in the military. His final homer, which came on his final swing as a big leaguer, is one of the most famous sendoffs in history.
23-T) Ernie Banks: 512
500th HR: May 12, 1970
Banks probably would have finished with even more homers had he not begun his career in the Negro Leagues. His 512 dingers with the Cubs are the fourth-most hit by any player who spent their careers with just one franchise, following Schmidt, Mantle and Williams.
23-T) Eddie Mathews: 512
500th HR: July 14, 1967
Mathews’ 500th blast came against the stiffest of competition, Hall of Fame ace Juan Marichal, and exactly one year before his teammate, Aaron, knocked his 500th homer. Mathews hit his first homer at age 20, and he still holds the record for the most four-baggers struck by anyone (190) through their age-24 season.
25) Mel Ott: 511
500th HR: Aug. 1, 1945
Ott was the first National Leaguer to enter the 500 club, doing so at the Polo Grounds where he clubbed so many of his shots. The 5-foot-9 slugger with the high leg kick knocked 61 homers before his 21st birthday, which remains a record to this day.
26) Gary Sheffield: 509
500th HR: April 17, 2009
No. 500 for Sheffield was also his first hit as a Met, having joined New York after the Tigers released him in Spring Training. It was also one of just two career pinch-hit homers for Sheffield, who knocked his first one off the bench 15 years prior.
27) Eddie Murray: 504
500th HR: Sept. 6, 1996
Murray’s milestone put him in very exclusive company as he joined Aaron and Mays as the third player to pair 500 career homers with 3,000 hits (Palmeiro, Rodriguez and Pujols would later join them). Orioles fans, fresh off the celebration of Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-setting 2,131st consecutive game, which happened exactly one year before, gave Murray a standing ovation that lasted nearly nine minutes.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.