Gardner belts 15,000th homer in Yanks history

Gardner belts 15,000th homer in Yanks history

NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner connected for the 15,000th home run in Yankees franchise history on Sunday afternoon, launching a solo shot to right field off Drew Hutchison in New York's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

Gardner's blast carried into the second deck in right field and marked the second Yankees home run of the afternoon, following a first-inning blast by Brian McCann that also came off Hutchison.

"I knew a few days ago that we were a couple away, maybe within four or five," said Gardner, who has hit a career-high 17 home runs this year. "I wasn't sure if it was the one I hit or the one McCann had hit. That's pretty cool. It's definitely something that I'll never forget."

According to research performed by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees entered the afternoon with 14,998 home runs dating back to 1903. The Yankees are the only Major League team with more than 14,000 home runs; the Giants are second with 13,983 and the Cubs are third with 13,354.

After Sunday's win, Gardner met the family that caught the ball outside the clubhouse, swapping a pair of bats and signed baseballs for the memento.

"They were happy," Gardner said. "They were probably happier that they saw Masahiro [Tanaka] walking down the tunnel going into the conference room. They were probably happier about seeing him than they were about meeting me. It was pretty cool."

The baseball, marked with the Derek Jeter final season logo, was resting on a shelf in Gardner's locker at the close of business on Sunday. Gardner said that he was not sure where it might go from there.

"I might just get Derek to sign it," Gardner said.

The first Yankees home run was hit when the team was still known as the Highlanders by first baseman John Ganzel, an inside-the-park shot off Detroit's George Mullin at Bennett Park on May 11, 1903.

Other notable milestone home runs in franchise history include No. 1,000, hit by Bob Meusel on Sept. 2, 1925, vs. Boston's Paul Zahniser; No. 5,000, hit by Mickey Mantle on Aug. 8, 1954, off Detroit's Billy Hoeft; and No. 10,000, hit by Claudell Washington on April 20, 1988, off Minnesota's Jeff Reardon.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.