It’s Long Gone: The Players With the Most Home Runs of All Time
As Aaron Judge struggled for nearly a week in 2022 to hit his 62nd home run, the most home runs of all time in the American League, baseball fans stayed glued to one at-bat after another in hopes of seeing the historic moment.
It happened previously when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were swinging for the National League and major-league records in 1998 and three year later when Barry Bonds surpassed Big Mac for the all-time mark.
It turns out, everybody digs the long ball. It’s also no surprise the highest paid players are all big-hitters who consistently hit home runs and RBIs and get fans to their feet.
The total being hit has soared over time, appropriately like a long ball traveling toward an outfield fence, and keeping the home run as one of the more celebrated statistics in sports history.
From Hank Aaron to Jim Thome and from Mickey Mantle to Ken Griffey Jr., which hitters have been going yard most often? We dive into the record books to explore the top MLB home run leaders in baseball history.
Single Season Home Run Record in MLB History
The list of leaders is not as embraced as it should be because the top six spots were secured by Bonds, McGwire and Sosa over a four-year span (1998 to 2001) that was at the height of a steroids-filled era in Major League Baseball. Since then, the validity of those home run totals have often been called into question.
McGwire was the first to surpass Roger Maris’ previous single-season record of 61 home runs in 1961, hitting his 62nd of the 1998 season on Sept. 8. The St. Louis Cardinal homered off Chicago Cubs right-hander Steve Trachsel with a low, searing line drive down Busch Stadium’s left field line.
McGwire wound up with a record 70 home runs that season, only to be surpassed by Bonds three years later. The San Francisco Giant slugged No. 71 to right-center of then-Pacific Bell Stadium off Los Angeles Dodgers righty Chan Ho Park on Oct. 5, 2001. He added two more in the Giants’ final regular-season series for 73.
While Maris hit his 61st homer on the final day of a 154-game schedule in 1961, Judge tied the fellow New York Yankee in the 155th game of the 162-game 2022 season and reached 62 in the 161st game. The different length in seasons is not an issue to Roger Maris Jr., who was in attendance when McGwire first passed his father and later Judge, and he says Judge’s 62 – not Bonds’ 73 – should be considered the major league record.
It is unlikely these numbers will be matched any time soon. The most by an active player entering the 2023 season is Miguel Cabrera with 507, followed by Nelson Cruz (459), Giancarlo Stanton (378) and Mike Trout (350).
Most Home Runs in a Career in MLB History
Although Bonds never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or ever admitted to using them, consider the effect of his stained era on the three-highest home run totals in history:
Hank Aaron’s 755 and Babe Ruth 714 home runs are well-known numbers, ranking second and third, respectively.
Bonds’ 762? Not so much (seriously, just ask somebody to name Bonds’ career total).
Albert Pujol is the fourth and only other member of MLB’s 700-homer club, as he finished his career with 703. There are nine players with at least 600 and 28 with at least 500.
Most Home Runs in a Game in MLB History
There are 18 players who share the record for home runs in a game with four each. Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters and Ed Delahanty of the Philadelphia Phillies did so in 1894 and ’96, respectively, and there’s been 16 more since the AL and NL cemented their agreement prior to the 1903 season.
That list of 16 has its share of sluggers with Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Carlos Delgado, Rocky Colavito, Gil Hodges, Joe Adcock, Shawn Green, Chuck Klein and J.D. Martinez.
Add in Mike Cameron, Bob Horner and Josh Hamilton, and 13 of the 16 hit at least 200 home runs in their career. The exceptions are Mark Whiten, who was just over 100, and Scooter Gennett and Pat Seerey, who were below it.
Among the highlight performances: Gennett drove in 10 runs for the Cincinnati Reds in his four-homer game against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 6, 2017, and Green, just three weeks after Cameron’s four homers, was 6-for-6 with six runs and a record 19 total bases as he led the Los Angeles Dodgers past the Milwaukee Brewers on May 23, 2002.
After the AL and NL merger, Gehrig was the first player with four home runs in a game, leading the Yankees past the Philadelphia Athletics on June 3, 1932. It was the start of nine straight decades with at least one four-home run game, accomplished most recently by Martinez in 2017.
Most Home Runs in a Postseason in MLB History
With playoff rounds increasing over time, the postseason record books have been rewritten in recent decades by players getting more plate appearances.
Randy Arozarena set the single-postseason mark with 10 home runs over 20 games of the Tampa Bay Rays’ World Series runner-up finish in 2020.
Through the 2022 season, four players had hit at least 20 postseason home runs in a career. Manny Ramirez had the highest total with 29 followed by Jose Altuve (23), Bernie Williams (22) and Derek Jeter (20).
The most home runs in a postseason game is three, and it’s be accomplished 13 times. Ruth is the only player to swat a trio multiple times – in 1926 and ’28 postseason games against the St. Louis Cardinals – while another Yankee, Reggie Jackson, owns the most-memorable performance as he hit homers on three consecutive pitches faced in their 1977 World Series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.