The ball he hit was the 104th specially marked one that had been used for each of his plate appearances since reaching No. 599. The Yankees immediately put commemorative T-shirts on sale at concession stands for $25 each, and one stand behind home plate sold out within two innings.
The milestone provided a lift during a trying stretch for the Yankees, who moved back into a first-place tie with Tampa Bay in the AL East. They are mourning the deaths last month of owner George Steinbrenner, beloved public-address announcer Bob Sheppard and former manager Ralph Houk.
Rodriguez regretted the Boss wasn't around to witness the moment, even though it likely would have caused A-Rod grief. "I guess the last two weeks it wouldn't have been a lot of fun for me with him looking over us," Rodriguez said.
A-Rod's life changed in February 2009, when in response to a SportsIllustrated.com report, he admitted to using steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, a span when he hit 156 homers. He also had major hip surgery, finally returning with a team-first outlook.
"Often in my career I've said things and it's been hot air and I haven't really followed through," he said. "But I think for the most part over the last two years I've done my best to walk the walk. And, again, I think I still have a lot of work to do, both on and off the field."
Rodriguez wound up 1 for 4 against Toronto, and Derek Jeter was 4 for 4 and scored three runs. Mark Teixeira drove in three runs with an RBI double in the third and a two-run single in the fifth to support Phil Hughes (13-4), who allowed one run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings.
A-Rod became the fourth player in the past decade to reach 600 after none in 31 years. As part of his $275 million, 10-year deal signed after opting out of his contract during the 2007 World Series, he can earn up to $30 million more for five milestone homers: $6 million each for tying Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Bonds, and $6 million more for breaking the record.
A-Rod went 28 at-bats between Nos. 499 and 500, a slide that included an 0-for-21 stretch.
"As long as they don't have a zero at the end," he said, "I think I'm going to be OK.
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Making his mark
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The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.