Sanders, Finley join exclusive 300-300 club
K.C. right fielder now among six to reach home run, stolen base milestone
Kansas City, Mo. ? Joe DiMaggio never gained admission to this exclusive club. Nor did Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Babe Ruth.
Until this month, only four players in major-league history had. Then, within days of each other, two well traveled friends – Kansas City’s Reggie Sanders and San Francisco’s Steve Finley – quietly expanded the group to six members. The admissions policy is demanding: 300 career homers and 300 stolen bases.
Sanders connected off Tampa Bay’s Chad Harville on June 10 for the 300th homer of his 15-year career. Four days later, Finley hit his 300th off Claudio Vargas of Arizona.
They’ve joined Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson in a club that parlays speed, strength, durability and base-running savvy.
“To be able to run and hit for power is a special thing,” Royals first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. “You’ve got to be consistent, too. And first and foremost, you have to take good care of yourself.”
Coming into the season, Sanders and Finley each had more than 300 steals. All they needed was a handful of home runs and a little more time.
“The home runs are tougher than the stolen bases,” the 38-year-old Sanders said. “If you’ve got speed, you’ve got speed. Home runs are mistakes. I’ve been able to hit 300 mistakes.”
Finley, 41, who began his major-league career with Baltimore in 1989, said he would wait awhile before dwelling on the achievement.
“I don’t think about that stuff while I’m playing. Someday I’m sure it will be nice,” he said.
The timing of the two outfielders’ milestone is not their only similarity. Both were born in the South – Sanders in Florence, S.C., and Finley in Union City, Tenn.
Both have enjoyed what amounts to a tour of major-league camps. Finley has played for the Orioles, Astros, Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Angels and Giants. Sanders began with Cincinnati in 1991 and has also been with San Diego, Atlanta, Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and now Kansas City.
Both have helped make good teams better. Sanders has been to the postseason five times in the past six years. Finley has appeared in the playoffs seven times.
Their paths crossed in 2001 in Arizona when the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Finley scored five runs and drove in two; Sanders had seven hits and scored six runs.
“We hit it off really well in 2001,” Finley said. “We did everything together. We stayed friends, and we still spend time together when we can. I’m glad to have him with me in the club.”
Since breaking into the 300-300 club, they’ve played phone tag.
“I’ve left messages for him, and he’s left messages for me,” Sanders said. “Our times are so crazy lately. We congratulated each other. We see each other a lot in the offseason. I’m in Scottsdale, and he’s in San Diego, and my wife’s from San Diego, so we always go back there.
“It is quite weird for us to be two good friends and to do it in the same year, something that had been done just four times in the past. Wow.”
As their careers wind down, Finley and Sanders have more milestones within reach. Sanders went into this weekend needing one home run to become the only active player with double-digit homers in 15 straight seasons.
Finley needs four triples to tie Mays’ San Francisco record of 12 in a season. He’s already joined Mays as the only players in history to total 425 stolen bases, 100 triples, 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases.
But it’s the 300-300 club they savor.
“For me, it’s a great milestone,” Finley said.