Hessman breaks league home run recordWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mud Hens third basemen Mike Hessman swung for the fences in Indianapolis June 30 and came back with a league record for home runs.
Hessman’s homer — his 15th of the season — brought Hessman’s career total International League home runs to 259, breaking a record that had stood since 1945.
The third-inning hit over the left-field fence against Indianapolis pitcher Jake Brigham surpassed Ollie Carnegie’s former record of 258 homers. Carnegie played for the Buffalo Bisons from 1931-41 and in 1945. Hessman tied Carnegie’s record on May 30 against Charlotte.
Hessman now sits at 404 career minor league home runs, good for third on the American minor league home run list. Buzz Arlett is atop that list with 432 homers.
The Mud Hens won, beating the Indians 9-1 at Victory Field.
Hessman, 36, donned a Toledo uniform again this season after playing five seasons with the team 2005-09, including as an integral part of Toledo’s 2005-06 championship squads.
“When you look at Mike Hessman and you look at his career and you look again at how hardworking he is, how steady he is, how he’s a great presence in the locker room, those all add up to good things,” Mud Hens President and General Manager Joe Napoli told Toledo Free Press earlier this season.
Already this season, Hessman has broken Toledo records for all-time RBI (406), and the modern-era Toledo records for hits (524), doubles (113) and runs (358), according to information provided by the Mud Hens. His 155 home runs in a Toledo uniform are also a Mud Hens record. Ryan Raburn is second on that list with 67 home runs.
Hessman was drafted in 1996 and made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 22, 2003, where he hit a pinch hit home run against the New York Mets’ Mike Stanton.
“It was awesome,” Hessman told Toledo Free Press earlier this year. “It’s one of those memories that you’ll never forget.”
From tee-ball games and backyard catch with his dad to the major leagues, Hessman said it’s the “love of the game” that keeps him coming back.
“I remember playing tee-ball on our little league fields, hitting off the tee, catching line drives from other players and just playing catch with my dad out in the backyard or going over to the school yard an playing catch with him.
“It’s all I’ve ever done. It’s what I’ve been doing ever since I got out of high school,” Hessman said. “I love coming to the field and taking ground balls and running around the field. Hanging out in the clubhouse. The fun things that come along with it.”
Hessman said he tends to be quiet, but hopes younger players know they can come to him for advice.
“I don’t say a lot. It’s more hopefully lead by example, just going out my business, preparing myself the right way,” Hessman said. “If they have questions, anything I could pass on to them as far as anything that will help them get to the next level and stay at the next level, I kind of look for opportunities now to help. Just give them my take on it because I’ve been around it and seen some things. I can give a different perspective on it maybe that might help them out.”
But, he’s quick to add, his focus on helping others doesn’t mean he’s not looking for ticket back to the big leagues himself.
“Obviously we play the game to get back to the major leagues,” Hessman said. “We’re still playing and trying to perform well to get that opportunity again, so if the opportunity becomes available, absolutely that’s what we’re looking for. But with that being said, you still have to come to work here every day with a good attitude and a right perspective of doing what needs to be done to get to that next level –and if I can be here as an assist to help some of those other guys who are right on the door of getting up there then I’d love to help out anyway I can.”