Miguel Cabrera sees clips from his first major league home run and laughs.
“It was a home game that involved walking. I was about 40 pounds lighter, ”he said after making his 496th and 497th home runs on July 29th. “I remember that. I played left field. Every time I do [see] a picture from 2003, I say, ‘Oh Miggy, what’s wrong with you?’ “
His memory is as good as his sense of humor.
As Miggy approaches 500 career homers, here are a dozen of the greatest bakers of his career, starting with his first:
1) June 20, 2003 against Rays – walk-off homer on MLB debut
The original will always be the best. Cabrera was just 20 years, 2 months and 2 days old when he made his major league debut for the Florida Marlins. After Cabrera made an out in each of his first four at-bats, he stepped out in 11th
2) October 22, 2003, vs. Yankees – World Series HR in front of Roger Clemens
Cabrera was still a 20-year-old rookie when he first sniffed playoff baseball and helped get the Marlins into the World Series against a much-lauded Yankees roster. With a 2-1 deficit in the series and a match in Game 4 against Clemens, the Marlins were faced with an impressive task. Clemens tried to intimidate Cabrera – less than half his age – with a few fastballs up and in, but Cabrera stayed alive in counting by fouling a pair of 2-2 pitches and then bringing Clemens deep into the opposite field double homer in the first inning. The Marlins won in additional innings, part of a streak of three consecutive wins, to claim their second World Series title.
3) August 9, 2013, at Yankees – Game-binding HR by Mariano Rivera
Cabrera was closer to 0-for-4 against the Hall of Fame in his career when he stepped onto the plate as a potential tie-run with two outs in the ninth inning. To add to the insult, he fouled back to back off his leg after falling into a 0-2 hole. Just as Rivera seemed ready to finish him off, Cabrera hit a 2-2 cutter and sent him over the midfield fence at Yankee Stadium.
“You should make a movie out of it,” said Torii Hunter afterwards.
4) October 15, 2003, at Cubs – Three-Run Homer in National League Championship Series Game 7
One night after Steve Bartman’s game, Cabrera continued the Cubs’ misery and the Marlins comeback with a formidable home run of a Kerry Wood Fastball on his ankle. Not only did Cabrera play it, he almost sent it to Waveland Avenue. The 3-run homer gave the Marlins an early head start, although the Cubs responded back.
5) June 20, 2016, vs. Mariners – Miggy meets Comericas Halle
Since Carlos Pena in 2005, no tiger had hit a ball on the outfield hall in Comerica Park. Cabrera not only caught the ball there, but also threw it completely out of the stadium. A fan landed the ball on nearby Adams Street. Statcast projected the drive at 454 feet. Just over a week later, Cabrera hit a 459-foot drive in front of Marlins pitcher Dustin McGowan.
6) August 7, 2013, in Cleveland – Kick-off shot for Danny Salazar
Cabrera struck Salazar, a hard-throwing right-handed man who was making his second start in the big league, in each of his first three at-bats. But when Salazar tried to get another fastball from him with the tieing run on base in the eighth inning, Cabrera lunged and sent a go-ahead homer deep into the center. While Cleveland fans gave a standing ovation at Progressive Field Salazar on his way down the hill to a 10 strikeout game, Cabrera received an ovation from the Tigers fans.
7) August 5, 2012, vs. Cleveland – Walk-off completes comeback in five runs
The game itself was wild: the teams traded runs until Cleveland scored three runs in the top of the 10th. Closer Chris Perez withdrew his first two thugs in the lower part of the inning, but back-to-back walks put up an Austin Jackson RBI double and a game-defining single from Omar Infante. Cabrera finished it off by turning a 3-1 pitch and sending it deep to the left.
8) May 28, 2010, vs. A’s – three-homer game at Comerica Park
Cabrera had never scored three home runs in one game until his eighth season with the majors. After paternity leave for the birth of his daughter, he returned to action and put up a performance display against the A, which was crowned by a drawn Homer from a hanging slider by Andrew Bailey. Detroit lost the game, but Tigers fans left with something to be excited about.
9) May 19, 2013, at Rangers – tape measure in three homer game
Cabrera had the national spotlight on Sunday Night Baseball and a warm evening in homer-friendly Texas to put on a show. He didn’t disappoint and hit his second three home game of his career. The second homer was the most majestic, a line drive by Derek Holland that went on until it met the eye of the grassy batters across midfield.
10) October 18, 2012, vs. Yankees – American League Championship Series Homer in front of CC Sabathia
The Tigers were on their way to the World Series, but first they had to take out the Yankees at the ALCS. With a jam-packed Comerica Park ready to party, Cabrera made sure that all hopes of a New York rally in Game 4 were dashed as he hemmed a Sabathia field in the left seats for a 2-0 lead.
11) October 10, 2013, at A’s – AL Division Series Homer ahead of Sonny Gray
While Justin Verlander’s jewel was the story of Game 5 of the ALDS, Cabrera provided the offensive support while ruining the incredible story of Gray. Oakland’s rookie phenomenon had closed the Tigers’ offensive for 11 innings in the series, and Cabrera had been fighting for the series, but Gray made the mistake of challenging him with a high fastball. Cabrera put it in the service area behind the left fence and finally put Detroit in the lead.
12) June 4th, 2019, vs. Rays – Grand Slam by Blake Snell
Just as Cabrera looked finished, he replied emphatically. He was back on the line-up after missing the last two games with chronic knee problems that will bother him for the rest of his career. To make matters worse, he was facing the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. Does not matter. As if reading a script, Cabrera stepped forward with the bases loaded, grabbed a breaking ball by his ankles, and played it as he hobbled around the bases.
13) May 16, 2015, at Cardinals – Miggys 400. Homer gives him Venezuelan record
As we count down to another milestone homer from Cabrera, we might as well admire the last one. Miggy’s urge to center Tyler Lyons not only got him to the prestigious 400 Heimer club, but also got him past Andres Galarraga for the most home runs ever by a Venezuela-born player.