Now Barry Bonds is one behind the Babe.
Bonds hit his 713th home run Sunday night, moving within one of tying Babe Ruth for second place on baseball's career list.
The San Francisco Giants' slugger hit a mammoth shot in the sixth inning off Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber, sending a 2-1 pitch off the facade of the right-field upper deck.
As he took his slow trot around the bases, some of the Phillies fans — who had been needling Bonds with boos and derisive chants throughout the series — stood up, cheered and clicked photographs.
Bonds' fifth homer of the season was estimated at 450 feet, one of the longest ever at Philadelphia's hitter-friendly park. He needs 42 to tie Hank Aaron for the major league record.
The solo homer cut the Phillies' lead to 5-3, but Philadelphia was up 9-4 after seven innings.
Bonds had been held in check since arriving in Philadelphia on Friday. The home run made him 3-for-8 in the three-game series with a pair of singles, and he had gone 2-for-11 since his previous home run Tuesday against San Diego.
He struck out swinging in his next at-bat against reliever Aaron Fultz in the eighth inning, sending many fans heading for the exits. He was taken out of the game before the bottom of the inning, replaced in left field by Jason Ellison.
It was Bonds' fourth career homer off Lieber. But the seven-time NL MVP came into the game 5-for-36 (.139) against the right-hander, his lowest batting average against any pitcher he had faced at least 15 times.
With his mother cheering in the stands, Bonds pumped his first as he returned to the dugout, perhaps trying to inspire a slumping Giants team that had lost three straight, six of seven and eight of 11.
Now he is one homer shy of Ruth's 714, one of the most hallowed numbers in a sport ruled by them. Ruth hit No. 714 in 1935 and held the major league record until Aaron broke it on April 8, 1974.
Commissioner Bud Selig has said baseball won't do anything special to celebrate Bonds passing Ruth because it would only put the Giants' star in second place.
Maybe it also has something to do with allegations of steroid use by Bonds and baseball's probe into whether he took performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds has long denied ever knowingly taking steroids, though the new book "Game of Shadows" reveals his alleged extensive doping regimen the authors say began after the 1998 season when Bonds saw the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa generated in their race for the single-season homers record.
Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to his role in a steroid distribution ring, and a federal grand jury is looking into whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified to the separate grand jury that indicted Anderson and three others in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal.
Perhaps no pursuit of second place in anything has ever garnered as much attention as Bonds closing in on Ruth. The Phillies said they received about 200 requests for media credentials this weekend, about 125 more than for a typical game.
The Giants do plan a celebration when Bonds catches Ruth. The team was set to take an overnight, cross-country flight and face Houston ace Roy Oswalt at home Monday night to make up an April 12 rainout.
But San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said Bonds probably won't play against the Astros.