Orioles smash home run record with 5 vs. Tigers At 243 and counting, team's HRs pass mark set by 1961 Yankees; Parent is unlikely hero; Orioles trail Yankees by 2 1/2 in AL East, lead wild-card race by 2 1/2


DETROIT -- The Orioles broke the major-league team record for home runs in a season yesterday, but it wasn't Brady Anderson who put them over the top, or Cal Ripken, or Rafael Palmeiro.

Backup catcher Mark Parent hit his first homer since being released by the Detroit Tigers last month, and it happened to be the Orioles' 241st of the year, surpassing the record of 240, set by the 1961 New York Yankees.

Parent's homer was among five hit by the Orioles yesterday in a 16-6 rout of the Tigers. Anderson hit his 46th of the year leading off the first inning, Cal Ripken hit two, and Bobby Bonilla added a grand slam.

The Orioles have 243 homers and counting, with two weeks to play in the season.

"It would've seemed a little more fitting if Eddie [Murray] or Brady or Cal hit the record-breaker," Parent said. "I'm just happy to have one with the grand total."

The ball Parent hit over the left field fence was retrieved, presumably to be sent to baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "At least I'll go there for something," Parent said.

"It seems like everybody has the capability of hitting the ball over the fence," Ripken said. "I've never been a part of a team that's had this much power."

The home-run record came on a day when the Orioles had plenty of other things to celebrate. The Yankees lost to Toronto, 3-1, enabling the Orioles to pull within 2 1/2 games of New York in the American League East race. The Chicago White Sox lost to Boston, 9-8, increasing the Orioles' lead over the White Sox to 2 1/2 games in the wild-card race.

After playing the Milwaukee Brewers in a makeup game today at 3: 05 p.m. at Camden Yards, the Orioles travel to New York for a showdown series against the Yankees tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The Orioles aren't the only team in the majors bashing homers right and left.

Home runs this year are up about 15 percent over last year's rate, and the Oakland Athletics (233) and Seattle Mariners (225) are also on pace to surpass the 1961 Yankees, who set the record in the first year of the expanded, 162-game schedule.

"People are always going to try to put it down," said Bonilla, "or try to put an asterisk by it and say this was the year of the juiced ball. People don't want to hear that guys are going to the gym more and working out harder than they did before. All I know is that we're a pretty good team."

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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