Baseball’s Year of the Homer went out with a blast - several of them.
Brady Anderson, Andres Galarraga and Vinny Castilla hit historic homers Sunday, and major-league hitters finished with 4,962, the most in 128 years of professional baseball.
This season, the first since 1993 not cut short by a strike, set a record with three weeks to go, when Florida’s Gary Sheffield hit No. 4,459, one more than was hit in 1987, which averaged 2.12 per game. This year’s record average was 2.19.
Seventeen players hit 40 or more homers, smashing the previous record of eight in 1961. Forty-three players hit 30 or more, 15 more than the old record set in 1987 and 83 hit 20, four more than the previous record, also set in ‘87.
Mark McGwire’s major league-leading 52 homers in 130 games for Oakland were the most since George Foster hit 52 for Cincinnati in 1977. Anderson hit No. 50 leading off Baltimore’s game at Toronto on Sunday, marking the first time since 1961 and the fourth time ever that two players reached the mark in the same season.
Baltimore set a record for most homers by a team in one season with 257. Seattle (245) and Oakland (243) also topped the previous record of 240 by the 1961 Yankees.
The Orioles had a record seven players hit 20 or more homers.
Anderson, whose previous career high was 21, hit 12 leading off games, topping the major league record of 11 set by Bobby Bonds in 1973.
Colorado became only the second team with three 40-homers players. Galarraga hit his N.L.-leading 47th Sunday and Castilla hit his 40th to tie teammate Ellis Burks. The Rockies matched the mark set by the 1973 Atlanta Braves.
The Rockies tied the N.L. record for homers in a season with 221, matching the 1947 New York Giants and 1956 Reds. The 127 homers by three players was an N.L. record, topping the ‘73 Braves.
Colorado, the first team with 200 homers and 200 steals, had four 30-homer players for the second straight season, with Dante Bichette hitting 31.
Burks became only the second player with 40 homers, 30 steals and 200 hits, joining Aaron, who accomplished the feat in 1963. Burks’ 392 total bases were the most in the N.L. since Aaron’s 400 in 1959.
Todd Hundley of the Mets hit 41 homers, breaking Roy Campanella’s old record of 40 by a catcher.
Barry Larkin became the first shortstop with 30 homers and 30 steals, hitting 33 and swiping 36.
Barry Bonds had 42 homers and 40 steals, joining Jose Canseco (who had identical numbers in 1988) as the only players in the 40-40 club. Bonds joined his father, Bobby, and his godfather, Willie Mays, as the only players with 300 career homers and steals. Bonds received an N.L. record 151 walks
Galarraga had 150 RBIs, the most in the majors since Tommy Davis had 153 for the ‘62 Dodgers. Cleveland’s Albert Belle had 148, the highest A.L. total since Ted Williams and Vern Stephens each had 159 for the 1949 Boston Red Sox.
Fifty players drove in 100 runs or more, topping the previous record of 32, set in 1930.
Lance Johnson of the New York Mets and Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners became the first players on their teams to ever reach 200 hits. Johnson’s 21 triples were the most in the N.L. since Adam Comorosky hit 23 for Pittsburgh in 1930 and the most in the majors since Willie Wilson had 21 for Kansas City in 1985.
At the other end of the statistical toteboard, the Detroit Tigers lost 109 games, the most in the majors since Toronto lost that many in 1987. The Tigers’ team ERA of 6.42 set an A.L. record, topping the 6.24 for the 1936 St. Louis Browns.
San Diego’s Tony Gwynn won his third straight N.L. batting title and his seventh overall, matching Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial and leaving him one short of Honus Wagner’s league record. Gwynn, who hit .353, fell four plate appearances short of the 502 needed to qualify. But under a technicality in the rule book used for the first time, he still won the title when four hitless at-bats were added to give him the necessary appearances and his average still topped Burks, his closest pursuer at .344.
xxxx TUESDAY’S GAMES 10:07 a.m.: Cleveland (Hershiser 15-9) at Baltimore (Erickson 13-12) (ESPN) 1:07 p.m.: San Diego (Hamilton 15-9) at St. Louis (Stottlemyre 14-11) (ESPN) 5:07: Texas (Burkett 5-2) at New York (Cone 7-2) (NBC)