MLB home run records: Most HRs in a game, season and career in baseball history


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Everyone loves the home run. The loud crack of the bat, the distance traveled, the bat flip. It is one of the most exciting moments in the sport.

There might not be anyone in baseball better at hitting home runs right now than Aaron Judge. The Yankees slugger’s power display in 2022 has forced his name into the conversation for the single-season record.

As Judge continues to chase those lofty totals, it’s a good time to take a look back at the record he’s chasing as well as other long-ball records throughout history.

Here’s a look at the all-time home run records for a game, season and career.

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MLB home run records

Most home runs in a game

Sixteen players in MLB history have hit four home runs in a game to share the record. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols make up the top five on the career home run list, but none of them hit four in a game (though Pujols still could).

No one has hit four home runs in a game since 2017, when the Reds’ Scooter Gennett did it against the Cardinals on June 6 and the Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez hit four against the Dodgers on Sept. 4. Before that, the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton against the Orioles on May 8, 2012, was the most recent.

MORE: When Bob Horner hit four home runs — and the Braves still lost

The only players to hit four home runs in a game and rank in the top 25 on the all-time home run list are Willie Mays, who reached the milestone on April 30, 1961, for the Giants against the Braves (he ranks sixth all time in home runs), and Mike Schmidt, who launched four for the Phillies against the Cubs on April 17, 1976.

The 16 players with four-homer games:

Player
Team
Opponent
Date
Lou Gehrig
Yankees
Athletics
June 03, 1932
Chuck Klein
Phillies
Pirates
July 10, 1936
Pat Seerey
White Sox
Athletics
July 18, 1948
Gil Hodges
Dodgers
Braves
Aug. 31, 1950
Joe Adcock
Braves
Dodgers
July 31, 1954
Rocky Colavito
Indians
Orioles
June 10, 1959
Willie Mays
Giants
Braves
April 30, 1961
Mike Schmidt
Phillies
Cubs
April 17, 1976
Bob Horner
Braves
Expos
July. 06, 1986
Mark Whiten
Cardinals
Cardinals
Sept. 07, 1993
Mike Cameron
Mariners
White Sox
May 02, 2002
Shawn Green
Dodgers
Brewers
May 23, 2002
Carlos Delgado
Blue Jays
Devil Rays
Sept. 25, 2003
Josh Hamilton
Rangers
Orioles
May 08, 2012
Scooter Gennett
Reds
Cardinals
June 06, 2017
J.D. Martinez
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Sept. 04, 2017

Most home runs in a season

Bonds was always a standout home run hitter. In the first seven years of his career, he launched 176 home runs in 1,010 games for the Pirates. After he reached San Francisco in 1993, his power hitting skyrocketed.

Of course, many believe that rise was accomplished through the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Though he was never suspended for using steroids, it is widely suspected that he used them during his career. Bonds has denied using PEDs.

TSN ARCHIVES: Barry Bonds’ 71 homers are a lot, how about 755? (Oct. 8, 2001)

That suspicion was at its strongest in 2001 when, at 36, Bonds shattered the single-season home run record, crushing his 71st home run to surpass Mark McGwire’s 70 from 1998. He went on to finish the year with 73. McGwire has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Here’s Vin Scully calling the record-setting homer:

MORE: Baseball, Vin Scully and The Sporting News, intertwined since the 1950s

McGwire and Sammy Sosa both chased the single-season record in 1998. For 36 years, Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs in a season had gone untouched, but McGwire and Sosa went back and forth in their pursuit of baseball history.

McGwire was first to pass Maris, and he finished the year on top with his 70. Sosa, who has also denied using PEDs, finished the season with 66.

Player
Team
Year
HRs
Barry Bonds
Giants
2001
73
Mark McGwire
Cardinals
1998
70
Sammy Sosa
Cubs
1998
66
Mark McGwire
Cardinals
1999
65
Sammy Sosa
Cubs
2001
64

Most home runs in a career

Bonds also leads the career list. Of course, this also comes with a virtual asterisk as people believe he used PEDs.

MORE: Manfred against asterisks for Steroid Era records, including Barry Bonds’

Bonds surpassed Aaron in 2007 with his 756th home run. Here’s how Duane Kuiper called the historic moment:

Before Bonds, Aaron had held the record since April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th home run, surpassing Ruth, who hit 714.

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Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs. He never had a season with more than 47 home runs, and only six times in his 23-year career did he hit as many as 40 long balls, but he was highly consistent, averaging 32 per season.

The top five hitters on the all-time home run list:

Rank
Player
HRs
1
Barry Bonds
762
2
Hank Aaron
755
3
Babe Ruth
714
4
Alex Rodriguez
696
5
Albert Pujols
686

MLB home run record-holders by season

Before Ruth came along, there was regular change at the top. No one was a prodigious power hitter like Ruth was. In baseball’s first professional season, 1871, three players tied with four home runs. The first player to reach 100 career home runs was Harry Stovey, who hit 12 home runs in 1890 to get to 101 for his career. He finished his career with 122.

Roger Connor passed Stovey in 1895, when he hit eight to reach 126. By 1897, the final year of his big league career, he had the career record with 138. He never more than 17 in a season during his 18-year career and reached double digits just six times.

MORE: Angels’ 7-home run loss by the numbers

Then the Babe came along. Back-to-back seasons of 54 and 59 home runs in 1920 and 1921 pushed him past Connor. He was up to 162 by the end of ’21. No one has held the all-time home run record longer than Ruth, at 53 years. When Ruth retired after the 1935 season, his 714 home runs were 336 more than his teammate Lou Gehrig, who had the second-most home runs at the time. Gehrig finished his career with 493.

Aaron surpassed the Great Bambino in 1974 with No. 715. Aaron then held the record for 33 years until Bonds passed him with No. 756 in 2007.

Here is a look at how the record has changed hands throughout baseball’s long history.

Top 25 MLB home run hitters all time

Rank
Player
HRs
1
Barry Bonds
762
2
Hank Aaron
755
3
Babe Ruth
714
4
Alex Rodriguez
696
5
Albert Pujols
686
6
Willie Mays
660
7
Ken Griffey Jr.
630
8
Jim Thome
612
9
Sammy Sosa
609
10
Frank Robinson
586
11
Mark McGwire
583
12
Harmon Killebrew
573
13
Rafael Palmeiro
569
14
Reggie Jackson
563
15
Manny Ramirez
555
16
Mike Schmidt
548
17
David Ortiz
541
18
Mickey Mantle
536
19
Jimmie Foxx
534
T-20
Willie McCovey
521
T-20
Frank Thomas
521
T-20
Ted Williams
521
T-23
Ernie Banks
512
T-23
Eddie Mathews
512
25
Mel Ott
511


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