Sep 15, 2013, 12:05 PM EDT
Baseball history was rewritten Sunday in Tokyo.
Yakult Swallows slugger and former major leaguer Wladimir Balentien clubbed his 56th and 57th home runs of 2013 in a 9-0 victory over the visiting Hanshin Tigers, breaking the Nippon Professional Baseball single-season home run record of 55 shared by Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera.
NPB introduced a new, more hitter-friendly ball at the beginning of this season and home run numbers are up across the league, but that should take nothing away from Balentien’s feat. After all, he’s the only one climbing toward 60. Major League Baseball fans are well-seasoned in the practice of adding context to these sort of things. Here’s No. 56, the record-snapping shot:
Balentien signed a three-year, $7.5 million free agent deal last winter with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows after flaming out in the Reds’ farm system. It does not carry an opt-out clause, so he can’t immediately parlay this success into a big contract back in the states. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t even want to.
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 3
- Vin Scully will return in 2016 for his 67th season of broadcasting 32
- The Athletics have a travel-heavy 2016 schedule and unsuccessfully tried to have it altered 9
- Mariners fire general manager Jack Zduriencik 71
- Pedro Martinez wonders if bad chemistry is the reason the Tigers and Mariners are out of contention 51
- Vote of non-confidence: Reds owner says manager Bryan Price won’t be fired before the season is over 23
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 86
- Denard Span headed back to DL with hip inflammation, unlikely to return this season 10
- Sarah Palin sticks up for Curt Schilling, tells ESPN to “stick to sports” (262)
- Dan Patrick: When does ESPN cut ties with Curt Schilling? (200)
- Curt Schilling taken off of Little League World Series duty for making a really bad tweet (169)
- Curt Schilling taken off of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast this week (134)
- Phillies announcer calls Mets fans “obnoxious” (123)