04/02/2003 8:44 PM ET
A-Rod hits No. 300
Superstar becomes youngest to reach homer plateau
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Alex Rodriguez made history Wednesday.
With a three-run home run in the fifth inning against Ramon Ortiz, Rodriguez became the youngest player ever to reach the 300-homer plateau. Rodriguez, who is 27 years, 249 days old, bested Jimmie Foxx for the mark. Foxx was 27 years, 328 days old, when he hit his 300th home run.
The Angels defeated Texas, 11-5, to win two of three games in the opening series for both teams.
"It think it's just a testament to how hard I work every year," Rodriguez said. "The first third of my career I am very proud of, and, hopefully, the last two-thirds I can continue the same pace and keep getting after it."
Foxx went on to hit 534 home runs.
"I don't think it surprises anybody," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "It's an honor to be a part of it and amazing to see it. Hopefully, we'll see a lot more. He's a special player."
For his career, Rodriguez is 12-for-35 with six home runs against Ortiz. Last season, Ortiz angered several Rangers players, including Rodriguez, by making what were perceived as overly celebratory gestures after striking out Rangers hitters.
"I don't dislike him. I think he is a good kid," Rodriguez said. "We had our differences and we spoke about them. Actually, I don't know the kid, I'm sure he's a nice guy."
Rodriguez's homer landed in the right-center field stands. Kyle Miller, a retail manager from the nearby city of Orange, Calif., retrieved the ball after it hit the seat next to him and promptly threw it back on the playing field. Afterward, Miller said four or five people approached him about possibly purchasing the ball, but it was too late.
"Everybody said to throw it back and being the true Angels fan I am, I threw it back," Miller said. "I still would have done it. Seriously, would a true Angels fan throw it back? I think so."
An Angels bat boy retrieved the ball and almost threw the ball back into the stands, but Texas trainer Jamie Reed got the young man's attention before he released the ball.
"He just threw it back," Rodriguez said. "I had a good negotiation planned. I had a signed jersey, a helmet, a ball and a bat. We were going to start with the ball and see if it was going to be a long negotiation, but I thank him."
Rodriguez led the Major Leagues with 57 home runs last season and has hit 109 home runs since joining the Rangers in 2001. The home run was his second of the season.
He also set a club record with his 326th consecutive game played for the Rangers on Tuesday. Overall, Rodriguez, who played his first game with the Rangers on April 1, 2001, has appeared in 389 consecutive games since sitting out on July 23, 2000.
"I like to think I am getting a little better with age," Rodriguez said. "I am going to continue to work hard year in and year out. I have had the great fortune that I have been healthy the first third of my career. I can attribute that to my hard work every offseason and in the season."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.