NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to hit 600 home runs this afternoon, reaching the milestone after a 12-game drought — and exactly three years to the day after his 500th homer — with a drive off Toronto's Shaun Marcum in the first inning at Yankee Stadium.
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.
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), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays ( 660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609).
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.
The milestone homer provided a lift during a trying stretch for the Yankees. Not only have they watched the Tampa Bay Rays pass them for first place in the AL East, off the field they are still mourning the recent loss of owner George Steinbrenner, beloved public-address announcer Bob Sheppard and former manager Ralph Houk.
Despite saying he's been more relaxed than he was when trying for his 500th homer, the Yankees slugger went 9 for 46 after homering on July 22, the longest stretch between Nos. 599 and 600 for any of the seven to reach the mark. Mays was next at 21 at-bats, according to STATS LLC. Rodriguez went 28 without a home run before 500.
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.