It was a fastball, heading for the outside corner. The kind Adam Dunn had seen hundreds of times before. The kind he knows well. Dunn, ’99, rocked back, threw his waffle-sized hands at the ball, and connected, sending a two-run home run over the dark green walls of Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
It wasn’t quite enough to grab his White Sox the lead, but for those following, it was one of the rarer sights the game’s ever seen. For with the blast, the former Longhorn became the 50th player in the history of the game to hit 400 home runs.
The home run allowed the Houston native, who had served as Major Applewhite’s backup at UT in the late ’90s, to join teammate Paul Konerko in hitting the 400th of his career, the first time a pair of teammates have hit their 400th in the same season. It also allowed Dunn to increase his Major League-wide home run lead, which currently sits at 36.
(Unfortunately, it also led the fan who retrieved the ball to be arrested for clambering into the stadium’s fountain.)
While the 400-home run plateau isn’t a guarantor of the Hall of Fame, it will certainly bolster Dunn’s case. The “Big Donkey,” who has never been linked to any steroid usage, could well reach 500 home runs and 2,000 hits before his career is over—enough to merit discussion in Hall of Fame voting. As it is, Dunn now has the eighth-highest total of home runs through his first dozen seasons, directly behind Frank Robinson and Mickey Mantle.
Dunn, while appreciating the feat, knows that his personal numbers mean little in the face of the looming pennant race. (As Dunn said after the game, “Tonight was a disaster from the get-go.”) As it is, the White Sox are currently atop the American League Central with six weeks left to play.
Somewhat remarkably, Dunn has never made it to the playoffs since entering the league in 2001, and his contributions have played a key role in landing Chicago in its current position. The White Sox currently have the fourth-best record in the American League, with the second-highest number of home runs and fourth-highest number of RBIs in the league.
Adam Dunn. Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr.