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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 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.

The Club

As of the 2008 season, 25 players have hit 50-or-more home runs in a single season, a total of 41 times.

Player HR Team Season Pos Career HoFmarker
Babe Ruth 54 NYY ^ OF 714 1936
Babe Ruth (2) 59 NYY ^ OF 714 1936
Babe Ruth(3) 60 NYY ^ OF 714 1936
Babe Ruth (4) 54 NYY OF 714 1936
Hack Wilson 56 CHC OF 244 1979
Jimmie Foxx 58‡ PHA 1B/3B 534 1951
Jimmie Foxx (2) 50 BOS 1B 534 1951
Hank Greenberg 58‡ DET 1938 1B 331 1956
Johnny Mize 51 NYG 1B 359 1981
Ralph Kiner 51 PIT 1947 OF 369 1975
Ralph Kiner (2) 54‡ PIT OF 369 1975
Willie Mays 51 NYG OF 660 1979
Mickey Mantle 52 NYY CF 536 1974
Mickey Mantle (2) 54 NYY CF 536 1974
Roger Maris 61‡ NYY 1961^ OF 275
Willie Mays (2) 52 SFG OF 660 1979
George Foster 52‡ CIN OF 348
Cecil Fielder 51 DET 1B/DH 319
Albert Belle 50 CLE LF 381
Brady Anderson 50‡ BAL CF 210
Mark McGwire 52 OAK 1996 1B/DH 583
Ken Griffey, Jr. 56‡ SEA OF 611
Mark McGwire (2) 58 OAK/STL 1997 1B 583
Greg Vaughn 50‡ SDP LF/DH 355
Ken Griffey, Jr.† (2) 56‡ SEA 1998 OF 611
Sammy Sosa 66‡ CHC 1998 OF 609
Mark McGwire (3) 70‡ STL 1998^ 1B 583
Sammy Sosa (2) 63 CHC OF 609
Mark McGwire (4) 65 STL 1999 1B 583
Sammy Sosa (3) 50 CHC OF 609
Alex Rodriguez 52 TEX SS 563
Luis Gonzalez 57‡ ARI 2001 LF 354
Sammy Sosa (4) 64 CHC 2001 RF 609
Barry Bonds 73 SFG 2001 LF 762
Jim Thome 52‡ CLE 1B/DH 541
Alex Rodriguez† (2) 57‡ TEX 2002 SS 563
Andruw Jones 51‡ ATL CF 371
Ryan Howard 58‡ PHI 1B 200
David Ortiz 54‡ BOS 2006 DH/1B 289
Alex Rodriguez† (3) 54 NYY 3B 563
Prince Fielder 50‡ MIL 2007 1B 114


† 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 tier

As of the 2008 season, five players have hit 60 or more home runs in a single season, a total of eight times:

Player HR Team Season Pos Career HoFmarker
Babe Ruth 60 NYY ^ OF 714 1936
Roger Maris 61‡ NYY ^ OF 275
Sammy Sosa 66‡ CHC OF 609
Mark McGwire 70 STL 1998^ 1B 583
Sammy Sosa (2) 63 CHC OF 609
Mark McGwire (2) 65 STL 1999 1B 583 Shawn Green
Sammy Sosa (3) 64 CHC RF 609
Barry Bonds 73 SFG 2001 LF 762


The 70 home run tier

As of the 2008 season, two players have hit 70 or more home runs in a single season, a total of two times:

Player HR Team Season Pos Career
Mark McGwire 70‡ STL 1998^ 1B 583
Barry Bonds 73 SFG 2001 LF 762


Notes on the Club

Steroids and the Club

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 , 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 twice, 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.

Career years

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.

Cross-membership

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 frequency

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
Batter Season HR AB AB/HR
Babe Ruth 1920 54 457 8.4630
Babe Ruth 1927 60 540 9.0000
Mark McGwire 1996 52 423 8.1346
Mark McGwire 1998 70 509 7.2714
Mark McGwire 1999 65 521 8.0154
Barry Bonds 2001 73 476 6.5205
Barry Bonds 2002 46 403 8.7610
Barry Bonds 2003 45 390 8.6670
Barry Bonds 2004 45 373 8.2890


Multiple seasons

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
Batter HR Seasons Team(s)
Babe Ruth 54
59
60
54








New York Yankees
Mark McGwire 52
58
70
65








Oakland Athletics
Athletics/Cardinals
St.



Louis Cardinals
St.





Louis Cardinals


Sammy Sosa 66
63
50
64








Chicago Cubs


Additionally, all three players recorded a season in which they hit 49 home runs (Ruth in ; McGwire in ; Sosa in ), 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 nine year span between Willie Mays's hit 51-homer season in and his 52-homer season in marks the longest stretch of time between 50-plus home run seasons by a single player Major League history.

International membership

Sosa, born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republicmarker, 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
Batter Born HR Year
Sammy Sosa Dominican Republicmarker 66
63
50
64








Andruw Jones Netherlands Antillesmarker 51
David Ortiz Dominican Republicmarker 54


Membership by position

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
Pos Record Batter(s) Year
2b 42 Rogers Hornsby
Davey Johnson


c 43 Javy Lopez
p 9 Wes Ferrell


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.

Cross-league membership

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
Batter Team HR Year Team HR Year
Jimmie Foxx Philadelphia Athletics 52 Boston Red Sox 58
Mark McGwire Oakland Athletics & St. Louis Cardinals 58
Oakland Athletics 52 St. Louis Cardinals 70
65


Alex Rodriguez Texas Rangers 52
57


New York Yankees 54


Franchises by seasons

The New York Yankees hold the record with eight 50+ home run seasons:

New York Yankees 50 home run seasons
Player HR Season(s)
Babe Ruth 54
59
60
54





^


Mickey Mantle 52
54


Roger Maris 61 1961
Alex Rodriguez 54


Seasons by franchise

The New York Yankees also hold the record with four different 50+ home run hitters:

Membership by team
Franchise Members Seasons Years
New York Yankees (4) Babe Ruth
Mickey Mantle
Roger Maris
Alex Rodriguez


, , ,
,
1961



8
New York/San Francisco Giants (3) Johnny Mize
Willie Mays
Barry Bonds


,


4
Chicago Cubs (2) Hack Wilson
Sammy Sosa

, , ,
5
Philadelphia/Kansas City/
Oakland Athletics (2)
Jimmie Foxx
Mark McGwire


2
Boston Red Sox (2) Jimmie Foxx
David Ortiz


2
Detroit Tigers (2) Hank Greenberg
Cecil Fielder


2
Cleveland Indians (2) Albert Belle
Jim Thome


2
Pittsburgh Pirates (1) Ralph Kiner , 2
Seattle Mariners (1) Ken Griffey, Jr. , 2
St. Louis Cardinals (1) Mark McGwire , 2
Texas Rangers (1) Alex Rodriguez , 2
Cincinnati Reds (1) George Foster 1
Baltimore Orioles (1) Brady Anderson 1
San Diego Padres (1) Greg Vaughn 1
Arizona Diamondbacks (1) Luis Gonzalez 1
Atlanta Braves (1) Andruw Jones 1
Philadelphia Phillies (1) Ryan Howard 1
Milwaukee Brewers (1) Prince Fielder 1


Batters by season

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
1998 2001
Batter HR Batter HR
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 family

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
Fielder Cecil 51 1990 Prince 50 2007
Griffey Ken Sr. 21 1986 Ken Jr. 56 1997, 1998
Bonds Bobby 39 1973 Barry 73 2001


Franchise by age

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
Team Age Record Batter Year
Los Angeles Dodgers 118 yrs 49 Shawn Green
Chicago White Sox 108 yrs 49 Albert Belle
Minnesota Twins 108 yrs 49 Harmon Killebrew

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 48 yrs 47 Troy Glaus
Houston Astros 47 yrs 47 Jeff Bagwell 2000
New York Mets 47 yrs 41 Todd Hundley
Carlos Beltran


Kansas City Royals 40 yrs 36 Steve Balboni
Washington Nationals 40 yrs 46 Alfonso Soriano 2006
Toronto Blue Jays 32 yrs 47 George Bell
Colorado Rockies 16 yrs 49 Larry Walker
Todd Helton

2001
Florida Marlins 16 yrs 42 Gary Sheffield 1996
Tampa Bay Rays 11 yrs 46 Carlos Peña


The All-Star Break

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
Batter Year HR Pre Post
Roger Maris 61 33 28
Brady Anderson 50 30 20
Mark McGwire 58 31 27
Ken Griffey, Jr. 1997 56 30 26
Mark McGwire (2) 70 37 33
Ken Griffey, Jr. (2) 1998 56 35 21
Sammy Sosa 1998 66 33 33
Greg Vaughn 1998 50 30 20
Sammy Sosa (2) 63 32 31
Barry Bonds 73 39 34
Luis Gonzalez 2001 57 35 22
David Ortiz 54 31 23
Alex Rodriguez 54 30 24


References


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