The following is a chronology of the top ten leaders in lifetime home runs in Major League Baseball. This includes any home runs hit by a player in the National League (1876-present), the American Association (1882-1891), the Union Association (1884), the Players League (1890), the American League (1901-present), and the Federal League (1914-1915).
The list helps contextualize the evolution of one of the most prized achievements in U.S. sports. It is interesting to note, for example, that in the early 1930s, Babe Ruth had 300 more home runs than the next guy; or that when Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951, he was fifth on the all-time list.
Note: I am still working on getting the 19th century numbers right. Feel free to check my numbers. I know there are mistakes and I am sure inaccuracies exist. -Kingturtle
Active players in bold italics.