Barry Bonds joined the 500 home run club in 2001 and set a new career home run record of 762 in 2007.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), the 500 home run club is a group of batters who have hit 500 or more regular-season home runs in their careers. On August 11, 1929, Babe Ruth became the first member of the club. Ruth ended his career with 714 home runs, a record which stood from 1935 until Hank Aaron surpassed it in 1974. Aaron's ultimate career total, 755, remained the record until Barry Bonds set the current mark of 762 during the 2007 season. Twenty-seven players are members of the 500 home run club. Ted Williams holds the highest batting average of 500 home run hitters with a .344 while Harmon Killebrew holds the lowest at .256.
Membership in the 500 home run club is sometimes described as a guarantee of eventual entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, although some believe the milestone has become less meaningful in recent years. Five eligible club members—Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa—have not been elected to the Hall. Bonds and Sosa made their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013; Bonds received only 36.2% and Sosa 12.5% of the total votes, with 75% required for induction. Eligibility requires that a player has "been retired five seasons" or be deceased for at least six months, disqualifying four living players who have been active within the past five seasons. Some believe the milestone has become less important with the large number of new members; 10 players joined the club from 1999 to 2009. Additionally, several of these recent members have had ties to performance-enhancing drugs. Some believe that by not electing McGwire to the Hall the voters were establishing a "referendum" on how they would treat players from the "Steroid Era". On January 8, 2014, Rafael Palmeiro became the first member of the 500 Home Run Club to be removed from the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. As the BBWAA announced the selections for the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014, Palmeiro appeared on just 4.4% of the ballots. Players must be named on at least of 5.0% of ballots to remain on future ballots.
Three players on the 500 club are still active: Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. Of these, Rodriguez is active leader in home runs with 687.