07/11/2004 8:08 PM ET
Palmeiro to take part in HR Derby
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro had plans to go back to Texas and relax during the three-day All-Star break. The responsibilities of the 500 Home Run Club were more important, however.
|Rafael Palmeiro will participate in the Home Run Derby on Tuesday. (Jill Weisleder/Dodgers)
Palmeiro was selected to participate in the Century 21 Home Run Derby on Monday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Palmeiro will join fellow 500 Home Run Club members Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds in the event. A fourth club member, Ken Griffey Jr., was also picked to participate but was scratched Sunday due to an injury.
Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, Hank Blalock and David Ortiz also have agreed to participate.
It will be Palmeiro's second derby; he took part in the 1998 derby at Coors Field in Denver.
"Well, I was planning to get a breather, but this is something I can't pass up," he said Tuesday.
"I will just go there and enjoy the atmosphere. This has a chance to be something special."
Palmeiro also will participate in an on-field ceremony honoring of all the living members of the 500 Home Run Club. He will be joined by Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey and Ernie Banks.
Palmeiro has 539 home runs, including 11 this year with the Orioles. He connected on No. 500 on May 11, 2003, against Cleveland's David Elder while with the Texas Rangers. He also has 20 or more homers the past 13 seasons, the second-longest active streak in the Major Leagues to Bonds.
"I am in a club now where guys have big names," he said.
"I am humbled by the experience. I never really put myself in that category."
Palmeiro, 39, has spent this season passing some of the all-time greats. He passed Jimmie Foxx with his 535th homer on May 27 against the Yankees' Jose Contreras. He passed the legendary Mickey Mantle with a shot off San Francisco's Dustin Hermanson on June 12.
He has hit at least 38 homers in a season since 1995 and hit 90 over two seasons twice, in 1998-99 and 2001-02.
"It's hard to say, because when you seen names like that, it's an honor to be in that category," he said.
"It's tough to think about at this point. One day it will sink in."
The left-handed hitting Palmeiro also has 193 of his homers as an Oriole, sixth on the team's all-time list. He is 16 homers from catching Brady Anderson. Cal Ripken is the team's all-time leader with 431.
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.