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#53 Greatest HR in Yankee History

October 12, 2012
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A-Rod watches his blast soar to left (NY Daily News)

Alex Rodriguez | 500th | vs. Kansas City Royals | 8/4/2007

On July 25th A-Rod clubbed the 499th home run of his career in Kansas City.  My brother and I had tickets to a game on August 4th, 9 games away.

There was no way.

But then, the eventual American League MVP went on a mysterious slump.  He went hitless for the next 6 games, as he presumably felt the pressure of each a bat, then had 2 hits on August 2nd, but no home run, leaving just one game between us and the possibility of something incredible.  It was the first time since he was a Ranger that I cheered against Alex Rodriguez.  He went 1-for-5 without a dinger and my brother and I had a potential date with destiny.

On a beautiful late summer day at the old Stadium, Mike and I, and 54,054 of our closest friends, hoped that we were the chosen ones.  Only 2 other Yankees hit their 500th home runs while wearing pinstripes: Babe Ruth on August 11, 1929 and Mickey Mantle on May 14, 1967.  (Reggie Jackson and Gary Sheffield joined the exclusive club after they left the Bronx).  The thought of witnessing something so rare was electric.  We didn’t have to wait long.

In the bottom of the 1st, after Derek Jeter singled and Bobby Abreu walked, A-Rod stepped into the box.  The energy in the Stadium was incredible.  The Cathedral surged with the hopes of the near-capacity crowd and the weight of the moment.  Only at a place like Yankee Stadium could history feel but an arms length away.  Kyle Davies stared in to catcher Jason LaRue, but before delivering the first pitch he stepped off as though he knowingly was attempting to stave off the inevitable.  After a chorus of boos rang out, Davies again looked in and settled on a pitch.  It was the wrong one.  A-Rod swung, and from our vantage point in the left field upper deck it looked like it was coming right at us.  As the ball soared to left, the crowd roared in a way I had never heard before.  I have heard the Stadium at its loudest, having seen a few walk off home runs.  In that moment it was a different noise altogether.  It was the collective sound of shock, as if we were all thinking at the same time, Really??  I really get to see this??, but it just came out like, “OOOOOOOOHHHH!”

A-Rod’s shot was a skyscraper, so we weren’t entirely sure if it was going out or not.  Neither was the man of the moment, as he remained in the box, his eyes fixated on the ball.  From our seats the facade of the upper deck obscured part of the field below and as the ball dropped out of sight there was a half-second lull in our section, as we collectively held our breath.  Was it caught??  Did it go out??  Then I caught sight of Jeter, arms up, rounding 3rd and we went berserk.  The Stadium felt like it was shaking that afternoon.

The Yanks went on to pound the Royals 16-8 that day behind 21 hits, including 3 apiece from Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Hideki Matsui, and Wilson Betemit and 4 hits from Robinson Cano.

You wish you could pay each fan back by shaking their hands, but all I could do is hit a home run and win a game.  They wasted a lot of Kodak film on me this week, I’m just glad I was able to pay them back.

| Alex Rodriguez |

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