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In Major League Baseball, the 50 home run club is an informal term applied to the group of players who have hit 50 or more home runs in a single season. The 50 Home Run Club was "founded" by Babe Ruth in 1920. At the time, he became the first player to hit not only 50 home runs in a season, but 40 and 30 as well, breaking his own single season record of 29 from the 1919 season.
Mentioned less frequently are the 60 Home Run Club and the 70 Home Run Club, which have five and two members respectively. These "clubs" have become more populated since the 1998 season, which saw membership in the 60 Home Run Club double. That year, Mark McGwire became the founding member of the 70 Home Run Club when he set a new single-season record. He has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds, the only other member of the 70 Home Run Club.
As of the 2008 season, 25 players have hit 50-or-more home runs in a single season, a total of 41 times.
|Babe Ruth (2)||59||NYY||1921^||OF||714||1936|
|Babe Ruth (4)||54||NYY||1928||OF||714||1936|
|Jimmie Foxx (2)||50||BOS||1938||1B||534||1951|
|Ralph Kiner (2)||54‡||PIT||1949||OF||369||1975|
|Mickey Mantle (2)||54||NYY||1961||CF||536||1974|
|Willie Mays (2)||52||SFG||1965||OF||660||1979|
|Ken Griffey, Jr.||56‡||SEA||1997||OF||630|
|Mark McGwire (2)||58||OAK/STL||1997||1B||583|
|Ken Griffey, Jr. (2)||56‡||SEA||1998||OF||630|
|Mark McGwire (3)||70‡||STL||1998^||1B||583|
|Sammy Sosa (2)||63||CHC||1999||OF||609|
|Mark McGwire (4)||65||STL||1999||1B||583|
|Sammy Sosa (3)||50||CHC||2000||OF||609|
|Sammy Sosa (4)||64||CHC||2001||RF||609|
|Alex Rodriguez† (2)||57‡||TEX||2002||SS||563|
|Alex Rodriguez† (3)||54||NYY||2007||3B||563|
† indicates an active player.
‡ indicates a franchise record.
^ indicates previous single-season record.
- Current single-season record in boldface.
- Career home run totals are as of through 2008.
The 60 home run tierEdit
|Sammy Sosa (2)||63||CHC||1999||OF||609|
|Mark McGwire (2)||65||STL||1999||1B||583|
|Sammy Sosa (3)||64||CHC||2001||RF||609|
The 70 home run tierEdit
Notes on the ClubEdit
Steroids and the ClubEdit
Since the start of the live-ball era in the 1920s, the only decade which did not see a 50-homer season was the 1980s. Only one player — George Foster in 1977 — had a 50-homer season in the quarter-century between 1965 and 1990. Before 1990, only eleven players had hit 50 or more homers in a season, a total of 18 times in 70 years; only two of them — Ruth and Maris — had hit 60 or more. Since 1994, a period that has been called "the steroids era" by Dan Patrick and Neil Hayes, thirteen more players have joined the Club by hitting 50-or-more home runs 21 times.
Three players — Sosa, McGwire and Bonds — have hit 60 or more homers a total of six times, and two of them have broken the 70 home run plateau. The eight seasons from 1995 through 2002 mark the longest stretch of consecutive seasons with at least one batter hitting 50-or-more home runs; ten batters combined to hit a total of 1,051 home runs, reaching the 50 home run plateau 18 times. The second-longest stretch was the three seasons from 2005 through 2007 (Rodriguez, Jones, Howard and Ortiz, and Prince Fielder).
Four notable members who joined this list since 1990 — Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire — have been embroiled in the ongoing steroids controversy. This brings into question the legitimacy of their numbers . Bonds is the only member of the club named in Senator Mitchell's report on steroids in Major League Baseball. On January 11th, 2010, Mark McGuire admitted to the Associated Press that he used steroids for almost a decade of his career, including the year he broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998. Rodriguez and Sosa were both among the 104 who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. David Ortiz also tested positive but doesn't know what he tested positive for and claims to have been careless with the substances he was taking at the time.
Fifteen of the 24 club members have hit 50+ homers only once in their careers. Of them, Brady Anderson's 1996 performance was the greatest statistical deviation from his career numbers; `96 season was the only time in his career that he hit even 25 homers, and was one of only three seasons in which he hit as many as 20. Anderson's career home run total of 210 is the lowest of all retired members of the 50-homer club.
Bonds's record-breaking 2001 season was the only year in which Bonds hit 50 or more homers; similarly, Roger Maris's record-breaking 1961 season was the only year in which Maris hit 40 or more homers. Luis Gonzalez with 57 homers in 2001 had never hit more than 31 and the most he hit was 28 after 2001. Anderson and Gonzalez' single year accomplishments also fuel the steroid controversy. With his 51 homers in 1990, Cecil Fielder holds the single-season record for home runs without a stolen base.
Ten members of the club are also members of the 500 home run club (Rodriguez, Bonds, Ruth, Mays, Sosa, Griffey, McGwire, Mantle, Foxx, and Thome), while Bonds, Ruth, Mays, Sosa and Griffey are five of the six members of the 600-homer club. Conversely, three retired members of the club have hit less than 300 career home runs: Anderson with 210, Wilson with 244, and Maris with 275. Hank Aaron, with the second most career home runs (755), is not a member of the 50 home run club, never having hit more than 47 home runs in a single season.
Ten players have won their League's Most Valuable Player award during the season in which they hit 50-or-more home runs: Foxx (1938), Mantle (1956), Maris (1961), Mays (1965), Foster (1977), Griffey (1997), Sosa (1998), Bonds (2001), Howard (2006), and Rodriguez (2007). No pair of MVP award winners have ever hit 50-or-more home runs in the same season, nor have consecutive MVPs in the same League. As no rookie has ever hit 50 home runs, no 50-home-run-hitter has ever won the Rookie of the Year award; the closest any rookie has come to hitting 50 was in 1987, when McGwire hit 49 (and was named AL Rookie of the Year).
Mickey Mantle is the only batter ever to have claimed a Triple Crown during his 50-home-run season, having led the American League with a .353 batting average and 130 RBI in 1956. That season, Mantle also claimed the rarer Major League Triple Crown, having led both leagues in all three statistical categories.
Four batters have hit 50-or-more home runs for a team that went on to win a world championship in the same season: Babe Ruth's New York Yankees won in 1927 and 1928, Mickey Mantle's Yankees won in 1956, while Mantle and Roger Maris's Yankees won in 1961, and Luis Gonzalez's Arizona Diamondbacks won in 2001. Albert Belle went to the World Series immediately following his 50-home run-season, though the Cleveland Indians lost to the Atlanta Braves in 1995.
Belle is also the only member of the Club to have hit 50-or-more doubles in the same season, creating a unique 50-50 Club by leading the American League (along with Edgar Martinez) with 52 doubles along with his 50 home runs in 1995.
Home run frequencyEdit
Ruth was the first batter to average fewer than nine at-bats per home run over a season, hitting his 54 home runs of the 1920 season in 457 at-bats for an average of 8.463. Seventy-eight years later, McGwire became the first batter to average fewer than eight AB/HR, hitting his 70 home runs of the 1998 season in 509 at-bats for an average of 7.2714. Three years later, Bonds became the first batter to average fewer than seven AB/HR, setting the Major League record by hitting his 73 home runs of the 2001 season in 476 at-bats for an average of 6.5205.
Ruth, McGwire and Bonds are the only batters in history to average fewer than nine AB/HR over a season, having done so nine times:
|Nine or fewer at-bats per home run|
Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Babe Ruth share the record for most 50+ homer seasons, with four each:
|Batters with four 50-home-run seasons|
|New York Yankees|
St. Louis Cardinals
Additionally, all three players recorded a season in which they hit 49 home runs (Ruth in 1930; McGwire in 1987; Sosa in 2002), each falling one home run short of becoming the first player with five 50+ home run seasons. McGwire's 49 home run season was also his rookie season, and remains the rookie record, causing him to come up one longball shy of becoming the first rookie to hit 50 or more home runs. Sosa's 49-home-run season followed on the heels of his third 60 home run season, causing him to come up one longball shy of also becoming the first batter to hit 50-or-more home runs in five consecutive seasons.
McGwire also holds the record for most home runs in two consecutive seasons with 135 (70 in 1998, 65 in 1999), as well as the record for home runs in three (193 from 1997-99) and four consecutive seasons (245 from 1996-99). Sosa holds the record for most home runs in five consecutive seasons, with 292 from 1998 to 2002.
Babe Ruth was the first player to hit 50 or more home runs in two consecutive seasons, 1920 and 1921; Ruth later hit 50 or more homers in consecutive seasons again, in 1927 and 1928, after which the feat wouldn't be repeated for nearly 70 years. McGwire was the first player to hit 50 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons (1996, 1997 and 1998), as well as the first player to do so in four consecutive seasons (1996-1999), while Sosa was the first player to hit 50 or more home runs in four consecutive seasons in the National League, from 1998 to 2001.
Sosa was also the first batter to hit 60 or more home runs in two consecutive seasons (1998 and 1999); he beat McGwire to the accomplishment by eight days, having hit his 60th home run of the 1999 season on September 18 before McGwire hit his 60th on the 26th. Sosa became the first player to hit 60 or more home runs three times (1998, 1999 and 2001), and yet he ironically did not lead the National League in homers in any of those three seasons: he was second to McGwire in both '98 and '99, and was second to Bonds in his record-breaking '01 season. Sosa's 50-homer season in 2000, as well as his 49-homer season in 2002, did lead the National League.
The ten year span between Willie Mays's 51-homer season in 1955 and his 52-homer season in 1965 marks the longest stretch of time between 50-plus home run seasons by a single player Major League history.
Sosa, born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, was the first batter from outside of the United States to hit 50-or-more home runs in a season. A total of three batters in the club have been born outside of the U.S.:
|50 home run hitters born outside the United States|
|Sammy Sosa||Dominican Republic||66|
|David Ortiz||Dominican Republic||54||2006|
Membership by positionEdit
Johnny Mize was the first infielder to hit 50-or-more home runs in a season; Alex Rodriguez is the first shortstop to record a 50-home-run season; Cecil Fielder is the first designated hitter to join the club, seventeen years after the creation of the position. To date, no second baseman, catcher or pitcher has hit 50-or-more home runs in a year:
|Positions without a 50 home run hitter|
Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx are the only members of the Club to have served as pitchers in a Major League game. Ruth leads all members of the Club with 94 career wins as a pitcher.
Ruth pitched four innings of one game in which he recorded a win as pitcher during the 1920 season in which he hit 54 home runs. He also pitched nine innings over two games, both of which he won as pitcher, during the 1921 season in which he hit 59 home runs.
Jimmie Foxx pitched one inning in relief in 1939, a season during which he hit an American League leading 35 home runs. He also pitched 22.2 innings over nine games in 1945, collecting one win during a season in which he hit seven home runs.
McGwire is the only player to hit 50-or-more homers in a season during which he played for more than one team, having been traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals on 31 July 1997; he is also the only player to accomplish the feat in a season during which he played in both leagues. He, Jimmie Foxx, and Alex Rodriguez are the only players to have hit 50 homers in a season for more than one team:
|Batters with a 50-home run season with more than one team|
|Jimmie Foxx||Philadelphia Athletics||58||1932||Boston Red Sox||50||1938|
|Mark McGwire||Oakland Athletics & St. Louis Cardinals||58||1997|
|Oakland Athletics||52||1996||St. Louis Cardinals||70|
|Alex Rodriguez||Texas Rangers||52|
|New York Yankees||54||2007|
Franchises by seasonsEdit
The New York Yankees hold the record with eight 50+ home run seasons:
|New York Yankees 50 home run seasons|
Seasons by franchiseEdit
The New York Yankees also hold the record with four different 50+ home run hitters:
|Membership by team|
|New York Yankees (4)||Babe Ruth|
|1920, 1921, 1927, 1928|
|New York/San Francisco Giants (3)||Johnny Mize|
|Chicago Cubs (2)||Hack Wilson|
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Oakland Athletics (2)
|Boston Red Sox (2)||Jimmie Foxx|
|Detroit Tigers (2)||Hank Greenberg|
|Cleveland Indians (2)||Albert Belle|
|Pittsburgh Pirates (1)||Ralph Kiner||1947, 1949||2|
|Seattle Mariners (1)||Ken Griffey, Jr.||1997, 1998||2|
|St. Louis Cardinals (1)||Mark McGwire||1998, 1999||2|
|Texas Rangers (1)||Alex Rodriguez||2001, 2002||2|
|Cincinnati Reds (1)||George Foster||1977||1|
|Baltimore Orioles (1)||Brady Anderson||1996||1|
|San Diego Padres (1)||Greg Vaughn||1998||1|
|Arizona Diamondbacks (1)||Luis Gonzalez||2001||1|
|Atlanta Braves (1)||Andruw Jones||2005||1|
|Philadelphia Phillies (1)||Ryan Howard||2006||1|
|Milwaukee Brewers (1)||Prince Fielder||2007||1|
Batters by seasonEdit
The 1938 season was the first in which two players — Foxx and Greenberg — each hit 50 or more homers. Over the next half century, two players hit 50-or-more home runs in the same season four more times: Mize and Kiner in 1947, Mantle and Maris in 1961, Anderson and McGwire in 1996, and Griffey and McGwire in 1997.
The 1998 season was the first in which two players — Sosa and McGwire — each hit 60 or more homers. Over the next three years, two players hit 60-or-more home runs in the same season twice more: Sosa and McGwire again in 1999, and Sosa and Bonds in 2001.
The 1998 and 2001 seasons share the record for the most players in a year to hit 50-or-more homers, with four batters each:
|Seasons with four 50+ home run hitters|
|Greg Vaughn||50||Alex Rodriguez||52|
|Ken Griffey, Jr.||56||Luis Gonzalez||57|
|Sammy Sosa||66||Sammy Sosa||64|
|Mark McGwire||70||Barry Bonds||73|
Age and familyEdit
Prince Fielder is the youngest player to reach the mark, hitting his 50th home run of the 2007 season at the age of 23; along with Cecil Fielder, the two are the only father-son duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season. Bonds is the oldest player to reach the mark, hitting his single-season record 73 home runs at the age of 37; along with Willie Mays, the two are the only godfather-godson duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season.
|Father-and-son home run hitters|
|Family||Father||High HR||Year||Son||High HR||Year|
|Griffey||Ken Sr.||21||1986||Ken Jr.||56||1997, 1998|
Franchise by ageEdit
The Arizona Diamondbacks were the youngest team to have a player hit 50-or-more home runs; they had been a National League franchise for only four years when Gonzalez hit 57 in 2001. Of the teams that have had a 50+ home run season, the Braves took the longest to have a player achieve the feat, at 130 years before Jones hit 51 in 2005; of American League teams with a 50+ home run season, the Baltimore Orioles took the longest at 96 years before Anderson hit 50 in 1996.
Twelve teams have never had a player hit 50-or-more home runs in a season:
|Major League teams without a 50 home run season|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||118 yrs||49||Shawn Green||2001|
|Chicago White Sox||108 yrs||49||Albert Belle||1998|
|Minnesota Twins||108 yrs||49||Harmon Killebrew||1964|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||48 yrs||47||Troy Glaus||2000|
|Houston Astros||47 yrs||47||Jeff Bagwell||2000|
|New York Mets||47 yrs||41||Todd Hundley|
|Kansas City Royals||40 yrs||36||Steve Balboni||1985|
|Washington Nationals||40 yrs||46||Alfonso Soriano||2006|
|Toronto Blue Jays||32 yrs||47||George Bell||1987|
|Colorado Rockies||16 yrs||49||Larry Walker|
|Florida Marlins||16 yrs||42||Gary Sheffield||1996|
|Tampa Bay Rays||11 yrs||46||Carlos Peña||2007|
The All-Star BreakEdit
Thirteen 50-home run seasons by ten batters, including three 60-home run seasons and both 70-home run seasons, have come as a result of a batter hitting 30-or-more home runs prior to the All-Star Break:
|50 home run seasons with 30 before All-Star Break|
|Ken Griffey, Jr.||1997||56||30||26|
|Mark McGwire (2)||1998||70||37||33|
|Ken Griffey, Jr. (2)||1998||56||35||21|
|Sammy Sosa (2)||1999||63||32||31|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Single-Season Leaders & Records for Home Runs. Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference, Inc. (2007-10-28). Retrieved on 2007-11-03.
- ↑ "Baseball, Steroids and the Truth," Dan Patrick, 3 June 2002
- ↑ "Steroids era has distorted baseball numbers," Neil Hayes, 1 Aug 2005
- ↑ "Excuse Me for Asking," Rick Reilly, 2 July 2002
- ↑ "What Bonds told BALCO grand jury," Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, 3 Dec 2004
- ↑ "McGwire mum on steroids in hearing," Ted Barrett, 17 March 2005
- ↑ "Congressional Hearing May Leave 'Unwritten Asterisk' in Public's Mind," Thomas Heath, 18 March 2005
- ↑ "," Associated Press, 11 Jan 2010