Former major leaguer Wladimir Balentien hit his 55th home run of the year for the Yakult Swallows, tying Japanese baseball’s single-season record.
On Wednesday night in Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Curacao-born Balintien matched the mark set by Japanese baseball icon Sadaharu Oh in 1964.
“It’s an honor to be tied with such great players,” Balentien said. “I’m relieved and happy I was able to do it here in front of our home fans.”
Balentien hit a solo homer in the sixth inning at Jingu Stadium and was presented with a bouquet of flowers after reaching home plate.
Despite Balentien’s home run, the Yakult Swallows lost 6-2 to the Hiroshima Carp.
Other athletes have been close to breaking the record in the past – American Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Venezuelan Alex Cabrera in 2002 all put 55 balls out of the park. However, pitchers in the past have chosen to walk players instead of throwing within their strike zone.
“The feeling in Japan at the time was that no one wanted to see Oh’s record broken. They wanted to see that record held by a Japanese-born player,” said ESPN magazine’s baseball analyst Buster Onley.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image: I, DX Broadrec/Creative Commons