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Manny's 500th comes through loud, clear

Boston's Ramirez joins 500-home run club in front of a pro-Red Sox crowd . . . in Baltimore.

June 01, 2008|Roch Kubatko | Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE -- With one swing Saturday night, Manny Ramirez hit the 500th home run of his career and cranked up the volume in a ballpark that became his temporary home. If the noise level had climbed any higher, it might have violated a city ordinance. It certainly wasn't in keeping with standard baseball practices; visiting players aren't supposed to be loved so loudly.

David Ortiz's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning scored rookie Jacoby Ellsbury with the go-ahead run, and Ramirez launched the first pitch from Orioles reliever Chad Bradford into the right-center-field seats, setting off a wild celebration that punctuated the Boston Red Sox's 6-3 victory before an announced 48,281.

Ramirez became the 24th member of the 500-home run club, and the second to gain entrance at Camden Yards, joining Eddie Murray, who did it on Sept. 6, 1996.

Ramirez stood at the plate and admired the flight of the ball, rounded the bases to an ear-piercing ovation from an overwhelmingly pro-Red Sox crowd and joined Ortiz and Julio Lugo in a tight embrace in front of the dugout, jumping up and down in unison.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," Ramirez said. "So I was happy to move on."

Ramirez took his time reaching the milestone. He hit No. 496 on April 19 and had only three in the next 34 games before Saturday.

This one, however, was worth the wait, he said.

"It was great, especially since I've been trying so hard the past three weeks just to get it done," he said. "It finally came and I'm happy. I'm proud of myself, of all the things I've accomplished. Now I can go and have fun."

In his first at-bat, Ramirez hit a fly to the warning track in left field. He then grounded out to third and lined out to left before going deep on his fourth trip to the plate.

That drive made Ramirez only the seventh player in baseball history with 500 homers, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 walks, 475 doubles and a .300 batting average. The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

"I'm happy, you know, about everything I accomplished in life," Ramirez said. "Not everybody has the chance to go and get to 500. I'm just proud to do it."

Ramirez is the 12th-youngest player to hit 500 home runs; his 36th birthday was Friday. The youngest was Alex Rodriguez, who did it eight days after his 32nd birthday. He is the third player to reach 500 in a Red Sox uniform, joining Williams and Jimmy Foxx.

It was Ramirez's 10th homer of the season and second of the week; he hit No. 499 Tuesday in Seattle.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Fast track to 500

Only seven players have reached 500 home runs in fewer at-bats than Manny Ramirez (x-active):

*--* -- ABs Total 1. Mark McGwire 5,487 583 2. Babe Ruth 5,801 714 3. Harmon Killebrew 6,671 573 4. Jim Thome-x 6,809 517 5. Sammy Sosa 7,036 609 6. Jimmie Foxx 7,084 534 7. Alex Rodriguez-x 7,169 525 8. Manny Ramirez-x 7,263 500 9. Mickey Mantle 7,300 536 10. Ken Griffey Jr.-x 7,321 599 11. Mike Schmidt 7,336 548 12. Ted Williams 7,454 521 13. Barry Bonds 7,502 762 14. Willie Mays 7,533 660 15. Willie McCovey 7,583 521 16. Frank Thomas-x 7,666 520 17. Eddie Mathews 8,280 512 18. Frank Robinson 8,427 586 19. Reggie Jackson 8,600 563 20. Hank Aaron 8,612 755 21. Rafael Palmeiro 9,116 569 22. Ernie Banks 9,199 512 23. Mel Ott 9,249 511 24. Eddie Murray 11,095 504 *--*

Source: Associated Press

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