DETROIT -- Gary Sheffield still needs a few home runs to get to his career milestone. In getting closer on Monday, however, his two-homer game reached a Major League mark that has been 133 years in the making.
When Sheffield went deep off Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez in the second inning of Monday's 14-8 Tigers victory, he hit the 250,000th home run in big league history. The statistic comes courtesy of Sean Forman at Baseball-Reference.com, which has been conducting a countdown toward the milestone event on his site with research from David Vincent with the Society for American Baseball Research.
The list includes home runs starting with the National League -- where Chicago White Stockings infielder Ross Barnes is credited with the first homer off Cincinnati's Cherokee Fisher on May 2, 1876 -- and continuing with the Players League, American Association, Union Association, American League and the short-lived Federal League.
Not until April 30, 1970, did the total reach 100,000. Atlanta's Hal King is credited with the milestone hit out of many that day with a homer off the Cubs' Ferguson Jenkins. It took nearly three decades for the list to double to 200,000, with Paul O'Neill awarded the honors for taking then-Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez deep on June 12, 1999.
The final 50,000 homers, by contrast, have come in a relative flurry of about 9 1/2 years. The list stood at 249,996 entering the night, with four games scheduled to start around the same time at 7:05 p.m. ET. Jason Bay started off the home run parade with a first-inning solo shot off Edwin Jackson in Boston's 3-0 shutout of Tampa Bay, but the next three homers came in Detroit -- all of them off Tigers bats, and all off Gonzalez.
Magglio Ordonez and Sheffield homered in the opening inning to put the total at 249,999. An inning later, Sheffield stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and drove a fastball deep to left for the 496th homer of his career. With the grand slam, he earned himself a place on a Major League homer list before he joins the 500-homer club.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.