DETROIT -- The 600-home run club more than doubled in the past decade, expanding from three members to seven. But it still represents rare air in the kingdom of baseball sluggers.
With Thome's second homer of the night, an opposite-field blast off Detroit's Daniel Schlereth into the Tigers' bullpen in leftfield in the seventh inning, the 40-year-old joined the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez (626 career homers) as the only active members of the 600 club. Thome wound up with five RBIs, leading his Twins over Detroit, 9-6.
"It's an unbelievable night, obviously," an emotional-looking Thome said. "I think it's something you never think of doing. You dream of doing it, and when it finally happens, it's kind of surreal. It's a neat thing, it really is."
Thome, who will turn 41 on Aug. 27, hadn't gone deep since Aug. 4 in Anaheim. He hit a two-run blast to left-center in the sixth inning off Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello, and he later said homer No. 599 relaxed him.
Upon rounding the bases for number 600, Thome was greeted by his family -- his wife, Andrea; his children, Lila and Landon, and his father, Chuck -- and the Comerica crowd graciously gave him a standing ovation, even though Thome has more homers (65) against the Tigers than against any other team.
"Throughout the years, there's been a little bit of heckling here. It's all for the good," Thome said, smiling. "To watch them stand up and cheer, it's something that's very, very special."
Interestingly, the Twins essentially gave up on their 2011 season earlier Monday when they traded leftfielder Delmon Young to the Tigers for minor-league pitcher Cole Nelson and a player to be named. Young, who took the Twins' bus to the ballpark before learning of the deal and switching clubhouses, homered off Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano in his first at-bat with his new team.
But the Twins showed that surrender doesn't equate boredom, thanks to Thome.
"Not too many people get to see a 600th home run from a very, very special person and a great player," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's very, very exciting for our baseball team."
Thome became the second-fastest hitter to reach the milestone, hitting his 600th homer in at-bat No. 8,137. Babe Ruth needed only 6,921 at-bats.
Thome is the oldest player to reach the mark. Sammy Sosa held it at 38 years, 220 days.