Brady's 50th fitting cap Anderson homer sets club mark

he becomes 14th ever to hit 50

12th leadoff blast a record

Orioles lose finale, 4-1, to Jays' Hentgen

September 30, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- Early in his career, Brady Anderson tried to convince reporters of his home run prowess, exclaiming, "Dude, I'm a 20-jack guy."

Twenty-jack, as in 20 home runs.

Anderson became a 50-jack guy yesterday, and doesn't have to convince anyone he can hit a ball over the fence.

Anderson lofted a Pat Hentgen changeup down the right-field line and just inside the foul pole in the first yesterday, becoming the second player to hit 50 home runs this year (Mark McGwire hit 52) and the 14th player in history.

He is the first Oriole to hit 50 home runs. Frank Robinson held the mark, with 49 in 1966, when he won the Triple Crown (leading league in homers, RBIs and batting average). It was also the 12th time Anderson led off the first inning with a homer, setting a major-league record. Bobby Bonds had 11 in 1973.

Anderson's homer was all the offense the Orioles could muster off Hentgen, who got a 4-1 victory and became the second pitcher in Blue Jays history to win 20 games in a season.

But this game meant much more to Hentgen than it did to any of the Orioles, except probably Anderson.

The Orioles clinched a wild-card berth Saturday, and used yesterday's game as an opportunity to rest their regulars and reward their reserves with playing time. Anderson was one of five regulars to start.

Anderson knew this could be his shot at history, but said he tried not to think about it before the game.

"Why would I change my approach and make it any different than a normal day?" Anderson said. "I'm very aware of the significance of [50 home runs]. Sometimes, when you want something so bad, it makes it harder to get it.

"I just wanted to relax. I told myself to take a nice fluid swing, and everything would take care of itself."

Before the game, Anderson was running in the outfield and remembered thinking to himself that he'd have a better shot at a homer if they closed the roof to SkyDome, because of gusting wind.

Afterward, Anderson said he thought the wind helped keep his homer fair.

He watched the ball's path closely as it headed toward the

right-field wall. When it hit the seats, Anderson was halfway up the first-base line and pumped his right arm in excitement.

He was greeted by a phone call from reliever Alan Mills when he returned to the dugout.

"I just called to congratulate him," Mills said. "Why? Did he say it was the president on the line? That's a heck of a feat. I just wanted to let him know that the bullpen was behind him."

Anderson never expected to get a call congratulating him on his 50th homer. His previous high was 21 homers in 1992, and although Anderson declines to speak about individual goals, he did admit that, "I didn't write 50 down in my note pad."

Chances are Anderson didn't write down any of his season-ending totals either. He set highs in batting average (.297), hits (172), doubles (37), RBIs (110), runs (116) and on-base percentage (.396).

That's indicative of an overall trend with the Orioles offense.

Anderson's homer was the Orioles' 257th this year, a major-league record. Rafael Palmeiro's 142 RBIs are an Orioles record. Roberto Alomar's 132 runs also are a team mark. Alomar's final batting average of .3282312 just missed the team record of .328358 set by Ken Singleton in 1977.

The Orioles established team highs with a .274 batting average, 949 runs, 1,557 hits, 298 doubles and, of course, the 257 home runs.

Plus, Eddie Murray hit his 500th home run at Camden Yards, in an Orioles uniform. Murray never got that ball back, and it was eventually sold for a $300,000 annuity worth $500,000.

Anderson didn't have that problem. He got No. 50 back from a fan for almost nothing.

"I think he wants 500-grand for it," Anderson said, jokingly. "No, I'm getting it back. He's on the barter system. Of course, he doesn't want any stuff from me. He wants some Cal [Ripken] stuff."

But even Ripken isn't a 50-jack guy.

500, but not 50

Brady Anderson joined an exclusive club by hitting his 50th home run yesterday. The following is a list of players who hit 500 or more career homers, but never hit 50 in a season:

Player ............. Career homers ...... Season high

Hank Aaron ......... 755 ................ 47

Frank Robinson ..... 586 ................ 49

Harmon Killebrew ... 573 ................ 49

Reggie Jackson ..... 563 ................ 47

Mike Schmidt ....... 548 ................ 48

Willie McCovey ..... 521 ................ 45

Ted Williams ....... 521 ................ 43

Ernie Banks ........ 512 ................ 47

Eddie Mathews ...... 512 ................ 47

Mel Ott ............ 511 ................ 42

Eddie Murray ....... 501 ................ 33

A 50-jack dude

50 home run club

Player, Team ............... Year, HR

Roger Maris, N.Y.-A ......... 1961, 61

Babe Ruth, N.Y.-A ........... 1927, 60

Babe Ruth, N.Y.-A ........... 1921, 59

Jimmie Foxx, Phi.-A ......... 1932, 58

Hank Greenberg, Det. ........ 1938, 58

Hack Wilson, Chi.-N ......... 1930, 56

Ralph Kiner, Pit. ........... 1949, 54

Mickey Mantle*, N.Y.-A ...... 1961, 54

Babe Ruth, N.Y.-A ........... 1920, 54

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