One upon a time the 50 home run mark was a milestone for only the very best power hitters in baseball.
The feat has only been accomplished 42 times in baseball history by 26 different men.
Recent history has sadly diminished this feat. Between 1995 and 2007, the feat was accomplished 23 times (four times each by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa).
Despite the intervention of the steroid era, baseball fans should still remember the significance of the 50 home run club.
On September 23rd, Jose Bautista hit his 50th home run of the 2010 season.
That home run made him one of the most unlikely members of this exclusive baseball club.
Here's a deeper look at the most unlikely and surprising 50 home run season in baseball history.
In 1961, New York Yankee Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single season home run mark.
Maris was no doubt a star heading into the 1961 season. He had won the AL MVP the year before.
But his 39 home runs in 1960 did not give leave for many to predict his 61 home run barrage a season later.
Maris' 39 homers in 1960 were the second highest in his career. Before 1961 he had only 97 home runs in his five year career.
After 1961, Maris would never hit more than 33 home runs in a season.
Of Maris' 275 career home runs,more than one fifth of them occurred in his record-breaking season.
Just eleven years after Babe Ruth hit his magical 60 home runs in 1927, Hank Greenberg almost stole the record from him.
Greenberg was a star in 1938. In 1935 he had driven in 170 runs and won the MVP award. But in 1935 he only hit 36 home runs for the Detroit Tigers, who won the World Series.
No one was prepared for his outburst in '38. Helped by the dimensions of Tiger Stadium, at which he hit 39 of his homers, Greenberg nearly became the single season home run king.
Greenberg had an excellent shot at the record. On September 27th against Billy Cox and the St. Louis Browns Greenberg hit his 57th and 58th home runs of the season.
The Tigers had five games to play.
Greenberg only produced five more hits. None of them home runs.
Despite slugging his 58 home runs and hitting .315 Greenberg finished 3rd in the AL MVP balloting. Jimmie Foxx, who hit exactly 50 home runs and hit .349, won his third MVP.
With a name like Hack, this Chicago Cub had to be one of the great sluggers of all-time.
Hack's amazing 1930 season is the stuff of baseball legend.
Not only did Wilson hit 56 long balls, but he also drove in 191 runs, a single season record which still stands to this day.
Wilson also hit .356 and had an OPS of 1.177
Before 1930, Wilson had never hit more than 39 home runs in a season, but he had led the NL in home runs in three previous season.
Wilson was only 30 years old in 1930.
What makes Wilson's 1930 home run barrage so unique is that he only hit 57 home runs for the rest of his career. He was out of baseball by 1934 and dead by 1948, likely a result of his relentless alcoholism.
Greg Vaughn makes this list because of the 41 seasons in which a player reached the 50 home run mark, his is probably the least known and least talked about.
Well because Vaughn hit his 50 home runs in 1998, when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were slugging 60+ and electrifying an entire nation.
Vaughn's 50 home runs was the fourth highest total in 1998, behind Sosa, McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr.
That distinction alone gives him warrant for appearing on this list.
Vaughn did get the last laugh, sort of. His San Diego Padres won the 1998 National League pennant and reached the World Series. They were then swept by the New York Yankees who didn't have a single player hit more than 28 home runs.
It's unlikely another player will ever hit 50 home runs in a season and finish third in his league and fourth in baseball in that category.
George Foster makes this list for a few reasons.
First, his 50 home run feat came in 1977, twelve seasons after the prior occurrence when Willie Mays hit 52 home runs in 1965.
That's the second longest gap between 50 home run seasons in baseball history.
Secondly, Foster was not a known power hitter when he shot up to the plateau in 1977. Foster had only hit 79 home runs over parts of nine previous seasons. He had never hit more than 29 in any of those season.
Foster had a torrid second half of 1977, hitting 32 of his homers over the season's last three months.
After 1977, Foster continued to bash balls out of National League ballparks to the tune of 348 career home runs.
Before hitting 57 home runs for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Luis Gonzalez had never hit more than 31 home runs in a season.
Like Greg Vaughn, his headlines were eclipsed by another player's dogged pursuit of the single season home run record. In 2001, Barry Bonds was on his way to eclipsing Mark McGwire's record by hitting 73 home runs. Sammy Sosa was also on his way to his third season with more than sixty home runs.
Before age 30, Gonzalez was not a home run hitter. Playing for Houston, Chicago and Detroit he averaged less than 15 home runs a season. When he was traded to Arizona in 1999 that all changed.
Over the next five seasons he never hit fewer than 25 in a season.
His 57 in 2001 stands out because he never hit more than 30 again. Gonzalez topped off his amazing 01 season by hitting the walk-off, World Series winning single in Game 7 of the World Series.
In 2001, Gonzalez finished third in the National League home run race, 16 home runs behind Barry Bonds and seven behind Sosa.
There's little chance another player hits 55 or more home runs and finishes that many behind the league leader.
Just about every baseball fan knows about Brady Anderson's 50 home run season. Before 2010, it was the outlier of outliers when it came to home runs.
Anderson was the lead-off hitter for the Baltimore Orioles during much of the 1990s. He had never hit more than 21 long balls in season.
Despite that, at age 32, he accomplished the feat after a hot start in 1996.
Anderson started well, hitting 11 home runs in April and nine in May. He slowed down in the middle of the season, hitting 13 during June and July, but managed to hit his 50th on the last day of the season.
Anderson hit four home runs in his last six games to help him reach the mark.
Anderson's 50 home run season is bracketed by his 16 home runs in 1995 and 18 in 1996. His increase of 34 home runs is only exceeded by the next player in this slide show.
Anderson never managed to hit more than 25 home runs in another season and his 1996 season represents just less than 25% of his 210 career home runs.
Thirteen years after George Foster hit 52 home runs, Detroit Tiger Cecil Fielder became the next professional baseball player to reach the mark.
The thirteen year gap between 50 home runs seasons is the longest in baseball history.
Fielder's 50 home run season came out of no where.
Well, actually it came out of Japan.
After four very average seasons in Toronto, during which he hit only 31 home runs, Feilder left MLB and went to play for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
In Japan he was nicknamed "Wild Bear" and slugged 38 home runs in 1989.
The Detriot Tigers took notice and called him back stateside to slug home runs in the Motor City. The migration agreed with Fielder as he took the American League by storm.
Fielder was relentless in 1991.
He hit 25 home runs at home and 26 on the road. He hit 28 in the first half of the season (84 games) and 23 in the second half (75 games). He hit 26 of his home runs against right-handed pitchers and 25 against lefties, in half the at-bats.
Only Jose Bautista can match Fielder's jump from 31 home runs across four seasons to 51 in a single season.
Fielder hit 44 home runs in 1991 to once again lead the American League.
He later helped the New York Yankees win the 1996 World Series.
In 2007, Fielder was joined in the 50 home run club by his son, Prince. They are the only father/son combo to accomplish the 50 home run season.
Jose Bautista is now the 26th player in baseball history to hit 50 or more home runs in a single season.
Bautista had 59 career home runs coming into this season. His career high was 16. He's more than tripled that.
He had only played one full season before 2010, when he played in 142 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006.
The Pirates gave up on him last season and dealt him to Toronto.
Apparently being left for dead by baseball's worst team inspired Bautista.
The previous owner of a .400 career slugger percentage, Bautista is slugging .616 this year.
He's been helped by his home ballpark in Toronto where he's hit 60% of his long balls. Early on this year Bautista nearly lost his staring job after only hitting .213 in April with just four home runs. In May, he turned things around with 12 long balls and a .287 average.
Only time will tell if Bautista's season is an outlier or the start of something new for the 29 year old slugger.
For now it stands as the most surprising and unlikely 50 home run season in baseball history.