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Updated: August 17, 2019
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

German Max Kepler sets European Major League homerun-record

ARLINGTON, Texas (USA) - German-born Max Kepler has set a Major League-record for most homeruns hit in one season by an European-born player. The 26-year old rightfielder of Minnesota Twins, born in Berlin, hit his recordsetting homerun on Friday (August 16).

On Friday-evening, in the away-game at Texas Rangers, Kepler hit a 2-run homerun in the fourth inning for Minnesota off of Mike Minor. That was hit 33rd homerun of the season and with that, Kepler set a season-record for most homeruns hit by a player born in Europe. With his homerun, Kepler put Minnesota ahead 2-0 en route to a 4-3 victory.

The previous record of 32 was set in 1951 by Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants. Thomson, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1923, hit his final (3-run, walk-off) homerun of the season on October 3 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. That became a famous homerun, which was nicknamed the 'Short Heard 'Round the World'. With that homerun, the Giants not only won the game, it also made the team champion of the National League. There were no Divisions until 1969, so the team with the best record was the League's champion and advanced to the World Series.

Coincidentally, Kepler hit the homerun on the same date (August 16) Thomson passed away in 2010. Thomson played 15 seasons in the Major League (1946-1960) for New York Giants, Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. In his career, Thomson hit 264 homeruns. At age two, Thomson moved to the USA with the rest of his family to join his father, who had moved to New York shortly before.

Kepler's homerun was the 89th in his Major League-career. With that, he is in third place on the homerun-list hit by players born in Europe. With his 264 homeruns, Bobby Thomson heads the list. In second place is Amsterdam-born (Netherlands) Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees, who has hit 104 (through Friday). In July, Gregorius became only the second European-born player to reach the 100-homerun mark.

Kepler made his Major League-debut in 2015, playing in three games for the Twins, becoming the second born and raised German player to reach the Major League, following Donald Lutz, who played for Cincinnati Reds in 2013-2014. Thereafter, Lutz played in Mexico and in an Independent League, before going to play in Australia. There, he plays since 2015.

Kepler then became a regular player from 2016 on. In that year, he hit 93 basehits, including 17 homeruns, in 113 games.

In 2017, Kepler played in 147 games, collecting 124 basehits, 19 of them a homerun. And last season, the outfielder recorded 20 homeruns in 156 games played.

So far this season, Kepler has career-high statistics with 82 runs scored and 33 homeruns. He currently has 115 basehits, which is only nine shy of his career-high in 2017.

Max Kepler was originally signed by the Twins on July 11, 2009 for 800,000 US Dollars, which then was the largest signing bonus for an European-born player. He then made his professional debut the next year in Rookie League. After also having played in Rookie League in 2011 and 2012, Kepler promoted to Single-A in 2013 and 2014. Next, he played in both Single-A and Double-A during the 2015 season. In 2016, the outfielder played in 30 games in Triple-A. In that year, he also played for two weeks in the Major League-team in April. On June 1, 2016, Kepler was recalled again and from there, he has played in the Major League ever since.

In the offesason, Kepler signed a five year extension with the Minnesota Twins.

The lefthanded hitting Maximilian Kepler-Różycki grew up in Berlin where his parents (father from Poland, mother from Texas, USA) both were professional ballet dancers. He started playing baseball at age six. In 2008, he started playing for Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg, with whom he played in the highest Germany league (Bundesliga). The next year, he signed a professional contract.

(August 16)

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