Yankees revel in witnessing history
Teammates get front-row seats to A-Rod's 500th homer
NEW YORK -- As Alex Rodriguez circled the bases after launching home run No. 500 on Saturday afternoon, fans in the left-field stands scrambled their way to the landing site, much like a reversed ripple effect.
The 54,056 at Yankee Stadium, the 27th sellout of the season, had their eyes fixed on the direction of that marked baseball, but back at home plate, and back at the top step of the Yankees' dugout, was a mob of pinstriped players waiting to greet the 22nd man in Major League history to reach the 500-homer milestone.
A-Rod's teammates not only had front-row seats to watch his feat, they've witnessed his magical season -- in which he became the first player in baseball history to record 35 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs for a 10th consecutive year -- unfurl over the past four months.
At 32 years and eight days of age, Rodriguez, who also scored three runs and racked up three RBIs on Saturday, is the youngest player to hit 500 home runs. Jimmie Foxx held the previous mark at 32 years, 338 days. Rodriguez also became just the third player to hit his 500th home run in a Yankees uniform, joining Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.
"It's awesome," Bobby Abreu said. "The guy is an outstanding player. He's one of the best players in the game. When you see him playing, you know what he's capable of doing. You know all his talents. He's put it together and he can go out there and show off his talents. For me, it's a lot of fun, especially hitting in front of him."
Abreu, who was on first base when A-Rod smacked Kyle Davies' first pitch over the left-field wall, said he had the perfect angle. There was no way that ball would go foul, Abreu said, and to be a part of the buzz rumbling throughout the stadium was something the Yankees right fielder will forever store in his memory bank.
"Just to be there when it happened," Abreu said. "I got the perfect angle over there, and I saw the ball high. He hit it pretty good, and it was exciting to me."
Hideki Matsui, who hasn't been a stranger to accolades this year, either -- collecting his 2,000th career professional hit and earning the July American League Player of the Month Award -- said Rodriguez's approach at the plate has led to the third baseman's record-setting season.
"He just seems to be calm and relaxed," Matsui said. "During the games, he's very focused. It just seems like he's more comfortable overall.
"I'm not surprised. Knowing him and knowing what kind of talent he has, he is certainly capable of doing the things that he's doing."
Wilson Betemit, who the Yankees acquired at Tuesday's trade deadline, is already seeing the side benefits of playing for a juggernaut franchise.
"It was unbelievable. I got traded and got to see Alex Rodriguez hit a big home run," Betemit said. "It's unbelievable."
Starting pitcher Phil Hughes, who made his first start since going down to a strained left hamstring and later a sprained left ankle earlier this season, didn't sit quietly on the bench as the fans ushered Rodriguez around the bases with cheers. His concentration on the Royals' batters would have to wait a few minutes because this, Hughes said, was something special.
The big right-hander wasn't going to miss a second of it.
"That's probably the last time I'll ever see something like that in person, so I wanted to make sure I was out there," he said. "It's awesome for him. Not something you see every day."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.