Detroit — The Tigers have had members of the 500-homer club, but nobody — at least, before Miguel Cabrera on Sunday in Toronto — had ever reached the milestone wearing the Old English D.
Eddie Mathews hit No. 500 just before arriving in Detroit midseason in 1967, and Gary Sheffield got there just after leaving Detroit in 2009. Hank Greenberg, arguably the greatest Tigers home-run hitter ever, might’ve gotten there had he not missed four years to serve in World War II.
But, as it is, Cabrera stands alone in Detroit lore, and sometime in the next couple of years, he could pass Al Kaline for the most home runs in franchise history (399).
Here’s a look back at the milestone and memorable moments along Cabrera’s journey to becoming the 28th member of the 500-homer club, and the first to join since David Ortiz in 2015.
June 20, 2003: Welcome to The Show, kid. In Cabrera’s first big-league game, at just 20, he logged his first career homer, and it was a big one — a two-run shot in the bottom of the 11th inning off Tampa Bay’s Al Levine for a walk-off home run. It was the first of seven walk-off home runs, to date.
Oct. 22, 2003: Postseason home runs don’t count toward a player’s official total, but this was one of the most memorable shots of Cabrera’s career, so we had to include. Trailing 2-1 to the Yankees in the World Series, Cabrera opened Game 4 with a shot off Roger Clemens, setting the tone for an eventual championship.
Aug. 23, 2006: Cabrera came into the game needing two to get to 100. He hit No. 99 in the second inning off Washington’s Tony Armas, a two-run shot, and then reached the century number the next inning, off Chris Schroder, in a Marlins victory at home.
June 12, 2008: A little less than five years earlier, Cabrera hit his first career homer, and first career walk-off. This was his second career walk-off, and his first in a Tigers uniform — sending a pitch from the White Sox Octavio Dotel, a future Detroit teammate, high into the stands in right field in the bottom of the ninth.
Aug. 23, 2009: Three years to the date after hitting No. 100, Cabrera reached No. 200, this time in a Tigers uniform — a two-run shot off A’s pitcher Michael Wuertz in the top of the eighth inning of a loss in Oakland. He became the fifth Venezuelan to reach 200 in MLB history.
Nos. 220, 221, 222
May 28, 2010: Cabrera led the league in homers in his first Tigers season, in 2008. But Detroit fans might not have known exactly what kind of talent they had until this day in 2010, when he homered three times against the A’s at Comerica Park. Amazing (or perhaps not so much; more on that in a bit), they came in a loss.
June 2, 2012: There were many memories from that 2012 season, when Cabrera won the Triple Crown. This home run stands out for its sheer length. In the fourth inning off the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda, Cabrera unleashed a shot to center that landed in the third level of shrubbery, 466 feet from home plate.
July 22, 2012: Like with 100, Cabrera needed two for No. 300, when he launched a pair of monster shots off the White Sox Philip Humber, who had thrown a perfect game three months earlier. This time, the milestone came in Detroit, in a win. The 300th went 454 feet. He became the 14th player to reach 300 before age 30.
Aug. 5, 2012: This was a crazy game. The Tigers trailed the Indians, 8-5, with two out in the 10th inning, and nobody on base. Four batters later, the game was tied, and Cabrera came to the plate with one on against closer Chris Perez, and sent the fans home happy with a blast into the bullpen beyond left-center.
Nos. 330, 331, 332
May 19, 2013: Cabrera and Mike Trout were the biggest stars in the game at this time, Cabrera coming off a Triple Crown and MVP season, and en route to another MVP award. This game in Texas was ESPN’s Sunday night game of the week, and Cabrera homered three times — in a loss, amazingly.
Aug. 9, 2013: This was a big series in the Bronx, and Cabrera, as he often used to do, rose to the occasion, capping a five-minute, seven-pitch at-bat with a tying two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. Playing through leg pain, he again homered off Rivera in the ninth two days later.
May 16, 2015: Cabrera wasted little time reaching this milestone, in the top of the first inning of Cardinals pitcher Tyler Lyons in a win. The homer made him Venezuela’s all-time home-run king, passing Andres Galarraga, and passing Kaline to move into 52nd all-time in MLB homers.
June 20, 2016: Players used to hit homers out of Tiger Stadium. But Comerica Park? Nah. At least, not until this day, when Cabrera ambushed Seattle starter Nate Karns, sending a majestic shot to the center-field concourse, where it took one bounce and left the yard. Fan Cory Kinney retrieved the ball across the street.
Sept. 5, 2016: This one kind of came and went without too much fanfare, but in the top of the first inning in Chicago off White Sox ace Chris Sale, Cabrera hit his 300th home run as a member of the Tigers. He became the fourth member of the club, joining Kaline, Norm Cash and Greenberg.
April 1, 2021: There wasn’t expected to be much exciting for the Tigers in 2021, other than Cabrera’s chase for history. He lasted little time getting the trek started, hitting MLB’s first homer of the season, in a snow squall of all things, off Cleveland’s Shane Bieber in a home win on Opening Day.
Aug. 22, 2021: It was a bit of a wait between 499 and 500 — 32 at-bats, including an 0-fer during the lit six-game home stand in Detroit — but Cabrera finally got there in the sixth inning Sunday in Toronto, belting a patented blast to right field. The Toronto crowd gave him a deserved standing ovation.
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