BOSTON: The New York Yankees’ drug-tainted slugger Alex Rodriguez belted his 660th career home run on Friday (Saturday in Manila) to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time list.
Rodriguez’s milestone ho¬mer came in dramatic fashion at Fenway Park, home field of the Yankees’ archrivals the Boston Red Sox.
Rodriguez, back this year after a one-year ban for his role in the Biogenesis doping scandal, had come on as a pinch-hitter when he drilled a fastball from Junichi Tazawa on a 3-0 count into the seats behind Fenway’s Green Monster left field wall.
He gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning, and they went on to win the game by the same score.
Rodriguez notched the first pinch-hit home run of his career, bringing teammates and Yankees coaches to the top step of the dugout to cheer.
But A-Rod’s drug-tainted past has made his pursuit of Mays a controversial affair.
Under the terms of a 10-year contract with the Yankees, Rodriguez is due to collect a $6 million bonus for reaching Mays’ mark.
But the club has indicated they don’t plan to pay him the bonus, saying his history makes the milestone unmarketable.
Soon after his landmark blast, the team posted a brief acknowledgement on Twitter.
“With his homer in the 8th inning, AROD ties Willie Mays with No. 660,” the team posted.
As he had drawn closer to Mays’ mark, Rodriguez had spoken often of his respect for the Hall of Famer.
“Willie Mays has always been a hero to me,” Rodriguez told MLB Network after the game. “A year ago today, I never would’ve imagined even playing baseball.
“But a day like today, I think of my mother, my daughters, the people at the Boys and Girls Club where I learned to play baseball.”
Rodriguez was moved by the reaction of his teammates and manager Joe Girardi, who congratulated him as he returned to the bench.
“It was very emotional for me,” Rodriguez said. “The last few years have been rough. To see their reaction … it was pretty emotional.”