Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera makes history with 500th home run

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Miguel Cabrera became the 28th player in major league history to hit 500 home runs Sunday, taking Toronto Blue Jays left-handed starter Steven Matz deep to right-center field in the sixth inning at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The 38-year-old can add the accolade to being a Triple Crown winner, two-time MVP, World Series champion, 11-time All-Star, captain of the Detroit Tigers and "one of the greatest of all time," according to Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

"He's a future Hall of Famer," Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman said. "He's going to go down as probably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. I'm just lucky I get to be around him and be in the same clubhouse as him. I can tell my kids one day I got to play with him. At this point, I don't think anything that he does surprises me. He is just an unbelievable player."

The last player to reach 500 home runs was Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who accomplished the feat Sept. 12, 2015. Albert Pujols did so in 2014; Gary Sheffield in April 2009 and Manny Ramirez in May 2008. (Three players did it in 2007.)

THE MAN: Even without No. 500, Friday's game showed how much Miggy means to Detroit

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"Miggy is living proof that legends exist," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "They're not just in your mind. They're in front of us every day. That matters. I don't know how to quantify it or how to describe it other than Miguel Cabrera playing every day on a team that's starting to win feels right."

At Comerica Park, Cabrera was constantly reminded of his milestones. A "Miggy Milestones" countdown was installed, towering over the list of retired numbers in left field, so Cabrera couldn't miss it. And the fans roared each time he stepped the plate. They showed Cabrera the praise he deserves for his 14-and-counting years with the Tigers.

"He's been doing so much in the ballpark and in this organization for long time," Hinch said. "It matters to him. But coming to the ballpark, first there's an expectation to win. I think he appreciates that. The chase for these numbers are certainly contributing to those wins, and that's what he wants."

Eventually, reaching 500 home runs seemed like an expectation.

[ Miguel Cabrera's home run chase brings excitement back to Comerica Park, and Miggy himself ]

"You try to do something to prove who you are or to prove what you're doing your whole career," Cabrera said in late July. "And you lose your focus, you lose something because you don't play like that. You (just) go out there and do it."

Cabrera stayed cool.

He delivered in his 19th MLB season.

As he has since joining the Tigers in a December 2007 trade from the Florida Marlins. Three months later, he signed an eight-year, $152.3 million contract extension. He bounced between first base and third base, before becoming a designated hitter later in his career. He reached 200 home runs in his 1,000th career game in August 2009. By July 2012, Cabrera had his 300th home run. Home run No. 400 came in May 2015.

"The best player Venezuela has born," first baseman (and fellow Venezuelan) Renato Nunez said. "He's the best guy we got."

Cabrera signed another eight-year contract extension in 2014, which kicked in before the 2016 season and takes him through the 2023 season. He is owed $30 million in 2021, with $32 million in both the 2022 and 2023 campaigns.

"To see what Miguel is doing, night in and night out, chasing milestones and delivering special moments for not only all of our wondering Tiger fans but also his teammates, has been just incredible," Christopher Ilitch, who succeeded his late father, Mike Ilitch, as team owner, said. "I think everybody is excited about it. It's brought a level of respect for the tradition of the game and what Miguel has done to put his place in history in this sport.

NO. 498: Miguel Cabrera hits 498th home run in 4-2 win over Boston Red Sox

NO. 499: Miguel Cabrera hits 499th home run in 5-2 win over Baltimore Orioles

"Undoubtedly, it's been great to watch. We're proud to have Miguel as part of our organization and someday go into the Hall of Fame as a Detroit Tiger."

After Cabrera celebrates his historic milestone for homers, there is another accomplishment to track down: He is nearing 3,000 hits, a club exclusive to 32 players in MLB history. Just six players have reached both plateaus: Pujols, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez. The home run placed him at 2,952 hits, 48 from that milestone.

"Watching Miggy has been unbelievable," righty reliever Michael Fulmer said. "I know he's chasing milestones. He knows that, but he's not acting that way. He's going out there and trying to help his team win. He's been red-hot right now, and we love to see it.

"It's just been unbelievable having him as a teammate these last six seasons. Looking forward to many more."

SEIDEL: Miguel Cabrera's chase of history is something we haven't seen often in Detroit

The 500 club

Miguel Cabrera is the 28th player with 500 home runs in MLB history. The list:

Barry Bonds: 762

Hank Aaron: 755

Babe Ruth: 714

Alex Rodriguez: 696

Albert Pujols: 676

Willie Mays: 660

Ken Griffey Jr.: 630

Jim Thome: 612

Sammy Sosa: 609

Frank Robinson: 586

Mark McGwire: 583

Harmon Killebrew: 573

Rafael Palmeiro: 569

Reggie Jackson: 563

Manny Ramirez: 555

Mike Schmidt: 548

David Ortiz: 541

Mickey Mantle: 536

Jimmie Foxx: 534

Ted Williams: 521

Frank Thomas: 521

Willie McCovey: 521

Eddie Mathews: 512

Ernie Banks: 512

Mel Ott: 511

Gary Sheffield: 509

Eddie Murray: 504

Miguel Cabrera: 500

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera crushes 500th home run