07/16/09 11:40 PM ET
Howard fastest in history to 200 homers
Phillies slugger eclipses Kiner's record by 48 games
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
With his solo shot in the sixth inning of Thursday night's 4-0 win over the Marlins, the Phillies' first baseman became the fastest player in Major League history to hit 200 home runs.
Howard, 29, reached the 200-homer plateau with a drive to right field off Marlins starter Chris Volstad. It was the lefty slugger's 23rd home run of the year, and it came in his 658th career game, 48 fewer contests than the previous record.
Before Howard, the fewest amount of games a player needed to notch 200 homers was 706, by Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.
"That's pretty cool," said Howard, who was able to retrieve the historic ball. "It'll hit me later on. I'll kind of come down a bit later. It'll be something I can look back on and just kind of cherish a little bit."
The homer was the fourth time in 15 at-bats Howard had gone deep against Volstad, Florida's 23-year-old right-hander. This time, Howard went deep on a 1-0 changeup that sailed right down the middle.
"That's pretty impressive," Volstad said of Howard's accomplishment. "Obviously, that's something you don't want to be part of. On that pitch, he did what he's supposed to do. That's why he has 200 home runs."
It was Howard's 23rd career long ball against the Marlins. The most he's hit against one team is 30, versus the Nationals.
"It just goes to show you how good he is," said manager Charlie Manuel, who said he could easily see Howard reaching the historic 500-home run mark. "When Ryan follows the ball, he becomes a good hitter. I mean, he stays on the ball. Hitting is no secret. When he hits the ball, he's really dangerous."
Howard trails Dick Allen by four home runs for seventh place on the Phillies' all-time list.
The St. Louis native was 24 when he made his debut with the Phils in 2004, but he wasted no time getting to work. And if Howard can stay at this remarkable home-run pace for another eight years, he could make a serious dent in the all-time home runs list by the time he's 37.
That just so happens to be the age of left fielder Raul Ibanez, who hit two home runs to catapult the Phils on Thursday and isn't doubting the younger Howard for one minute.
"I'm not foolish enough to put a limit on him," Ibanez said. "He's got incredible talent, and he works extremely hard, and he loves what he does. He loves his craft, and he's always on a quest to master his craft, which is really awesome to watch. And I think the thing that makes this team a great team is nobody's satisfied where they are -- they all want to get better."
As for staying in the game as long as his teammate and fellow All-Star?
"I would like to," Howard said. "Obviously that's kind of the age that guys are continuing to play through. Guys are taking care of their bodies more so they're able to play longer."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.