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Updated: September 15 2013
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Balentien breaks HR-record!

...Balentien is honoured after breaking...
...the homerun-record...
(© Photo: Swallows)
TOKYO (Japan) - Wladimir Balentien hit his record-setting 56th homerun on Sunday-evening (September 15) to break the all-time, single-season record in the Japanese Major League. Balentien hit the historic homerun in the first inning, then hit another one in the third at bat to raise his total to 57. His 57th homerun also accounted for a record, as it was the most ever hit in one season in Asian professional baseball. In 2003, Seung-Yeop Lee had hit 56 homeruns in the Korean Major League. The record-setting homerun ball will be sent to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in Tokyo. When Balentien continues hitting homeruns like he does at the moment, he could finish the season with 66.

The Dutch outfielder tied the record last Wednesday. With his 55th homerun, Balentien tied the record originally set by legendary slugger Sadaharu Oh in 1964. Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera, two former Major League-players, equaled the record in respectively 2001 and 2002. The two, who had a few games remaining in the regular season, never got a chance to break the record, as they were walked in their remaining at bats by pitchers, who with this wanted to protect the record of Sadaharu Oh.

...Watch Balentien's record-breaking HR...
The two homeruns by Balentien highlighted a 9-0 victory by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at home against Hanshin Tigers. It was reported that the ball of homerun 56 was caught by Sho Naruoka, a fan of the Hanshin Tigers. In return for the ball, he received an autographed bat, uniform and cleats.

During the post-game press conference, Balentien reacted to his historic homerun. ,,First of all, I need to thank my fans. I need to thank all the Hanshin-fans too to support me and respect every at bat. I'm so happy right now. I can't even believe what's going on. It was a line drive, I hit it so good. I hit it on the right spot so I knew it was going out. It was a great feeling. I think I can't feel that ever again in my life. I'm happy, I get it done in front om my fans her in Jingu. It's like a dream. I think I'm still sleeping. I can't even believe this.''

Regarding Sadaharu Oh, Balentien said: ,,It's a special moment. He's the all-time Japanese homerun king with a lot of respect to him, for the great powerhitter he is, to be able to tie him and pass, it's something very special for me.''

...Homeruns nr. 56 & 57...
(© Photo: Swallows)
Balentien said that he tried too much to hit a homerun in the three games following the tying of the record. But today, in his fourth game after hitting number 55, he told himself to relax more. Balentien broke the record with his mother in attendance.

In the first inning, Balentien hit a 2-1 delivery of Daiki Enokida over the left-centerfield fence for homerun number 56. In the third at bat, he faced Enokida again and this time hit a 3-0 pitch into leftfield for his 57th homerun. Balentien batted again in the fifth inning, this time facing Ryo Watanabe and struckout. In the sixth inning, Watanabe walked Balentien, who stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second base, who then moved on a wild pitch. In the eighth inning, he flied out to centerfield.

Sadaharu Oh was one of the first to react. ,,He overwhelming broke the record and is hitting them out at an amazing pace of about one homerun every two games'', Oh said. ,,Just like the fans, I am looking forward to seeing just how many he can hit''.

(September 15)

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