Much has been said about magical numbers with respect to enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 500 home runs has often been seen as one of these. There are however six criteria HOF voters are asked to consider as a candidate’s worthiness for enshrinement: record, ability, character, sportsmanship, integrity, and contribution to the game. Suffice it to say that magical numbers should have no place in this, even with respect to hallowed 500 home run bench mark as far as I am concerned.

The fact of the matter is players are bigger and stronger, have the potential for playing longer, and are just plain hitting more dingers for any number of reasons. Consider a chronological listing of just how this elite group has expanded over time and what this might portend for the future of the game and enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Then look at it against the backdrop of how the slugger’s nemesis, the modern major league pitcher is doing reaching their magical number of 300 wins.


Babe Ruth 1929


No new members


Jimmy Foxx 1940

Mel Ott 1945


No new members


Ted Williams 1960

Willie Mays 1965

Ed Mathews 1967

Mickey Mantle 1967

Hank Aaron 1968


Ernie Banks 1970

Frank Robinson 1971

Harmon Killebrew 1971

Willie McCovey 1978


Reggie Jackson 1984

Mike Schmidt 1987


Eddie Murray 2006

Mark McGwire 1999


Barry Bonds 2001

Sammy Sosa 2003

Rafael Palmero 2003

Ken Griffey Jr 2004

Frank Thomas 2007

Rounding out this decade will also likely include:

Alex Rodriguez

Jim Thome

Manny Ramirez

Gary Sheffield

Allowing for all of these, this adds nine new members in a single decade. This would be more than the previous three decades for a total of 24 or just over 1/3 of all the players in this elite club with the magical number of 500 Home Runs. Sure 500 is a lot of homers, but does it mean the same thing that it once did? These guys are hitting these things off of someone, so how are the pitchers fairing in reaching their magical number of 300 wins?


Kid Nichols 1900

Cy Young 1901


Christy Mathewson 1912

Eddie Plank 1915


Walter Johnson 1920

Grover Cleveland Alexander 1924


No new members


Lefty Grove 1941


No new members


Warren Spahn 1961

Early Wynn 1963


No new members


Gaylord Perry 1982

Steve Carlton 1983

Tom Seaver 1985

Phil Neikro 1985

Don Sutton 1986


Nolan Ryan 1990


Roger Clemens 2003

Greg Maddux 2004

Possible additions in this decade may include Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson for a total of four out of a then nineteen members of this club(post 1900). 300 wins still seems pretty magical to me when compared to 500 home runs. Also of note that unlike the All Time Home Record, the All Time Win Record is not in danger of ever being broken.

Often times I am asked about what to collect for investment purposes and the topic of members of the 500 Home Run Club comes up as point of departure. I ask folks if they are really interested in this as collection or an investment. While they seem taken back by my question, here is what I offer as an explanation.

If you are looking for a collection, then you will be picking up many of these newer players. If you are starting now, what you put into the newer player bats shows very little in the upside from an investment standpoint based on the sheer number of these bats that are out there and will remain out there. Fiscally speaking, the appreciation potential for these bats is minimal compared to the older players. What has long term value are the ones that I put in the “below the line category.” For me this line is drawn that those members who joined the club prior to 1990 and then those that are early or mid career that grade well would be in my “buy bind.”

I think the “undervalued members” are the two “shadow players”; being Ed Mathews and Willie McCovey. I refer to them as such because they played in the shadow of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays respectively.

Much of the same advice would be given for those considering the 3000 hit club as well with respect to establishing a “cut line” if you will with respect to investment vs set completion. None of this should be seen as deterrent for anyone to not collect anything in particular. For me, I think the investment “cut line” might be for those who reached this plateau prior to 1980:

Players before 1980

Cap Anson

Honus Wagner

Nap Lajoie

Ty Cobb

Tris Speaker

Eddie Collins

Paul Waner

Stan Musial

Hank Aaron

Willie Mays

Roberto Clemente

Al Kaline

Pete Rose

Lou Brock

Carl Yastrzemski

Players After 1980

Rod Carew

Robin Yount

George Brett

Dave Winfield

Eddie Murray

Paul Molitor

Tony Gwynn

Wade Boggs

Cal Ripken Jr.

Rickey Henderson

Rafael Palmerio

Craig Biggio

Exceptions to this might be early bats of Carew, Yount, and Brett as well as Cal Ripken Jr bats because of his following not limited to the 3000 hit club. For me, investment interests aside, I would not look to put either of these collections together because there are just some players on both of these lists of “magical numbers” who hold no particular magic for me.

As always collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. As an aside, a number of bats from both the 500 Home Run Club and 3000 Hit Club are currently listed in the Bushing and Kinunen For Sale Section on MEARS On Line which is open to both members and nonmembers alike.