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"You only get one chance in your career to hit 50," says Jackson. Reggie's chance came in 1969, when he hit his 40th home run in Oakland's 97th game. (By comparison, Fielder's 40th came in Detroit's 127th game.) Jackson hit seven home runs the rest of the season. No one ever said he was Mr. September.
Fifty? "I think [Fielder] has the kind of stroke and kind of swing that can hit 60" says A's manager Tony La Russa.
Sixty? "A guy couldn't do it if he had even a little bit of bad luck," says McGriff.
"Sixty?" says McGwire. "It would take the media not to bother the person all season long."
In 1979, Mike Schmidt had 31 home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies at the All-Star break. "They were on that Babe Ruth count and all that in the papers," recalls Schmidt. "It becomes harder when you get 'home run' in your mind. People keep asking you about it, and pretty soon it takes a lot of discipline to take that 2-and-0 fastball." Schmidt—like Killebrew, Jackson, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig and Frank Robinson—would never hit 50. He finished '79 with 45.
In Seattle, there is a writer in Fielder's face, and Greg Shea, a Tiger p.r. man, interrupts the interview to tell Fielder that a camera is on its way. "KOMO wants you at 5:45," says Shea.
Fielder nods. He has spoken to virtually every television station in Japan. The Detroit News has run a daily dinger watch. Tiger teammates have taken to immediately pointing to Fielder's locker when reporters approach. Fielder has graciously accommodated everyone, and he concedes it has wearied him.
Five forty-five. It is time for yet another TV reporter to tell Fielder how difficult it is to hit 50. "KOMO," says Fielder with a sigh before scrunching up his face. "Who's KOMO? Perry KOMO?"
"I honestly feel that if Jose Canseco stays healthy for a full season—if he plays 155 to 160 games—he can hit 60," says Fielder, who will not say the same for himself.