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Mike Hessman hits 433rd home run, is all-time minors leader

Mike Hessman hits 433rd home run, is all-time minors leader
Toledo Mud Hens player Mike Hessman hit a grand slam to break the minor league career home runs record. (Andy Morrison / The Blade)

Mike Hessman stands alone.

Hessman hit a grand slam for the Toledo Mud Hens in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday to become the minor leagues' all-time leader in home runs with 433. He had been in a tie with Buzz Arlett, who played in the minors from 1918 to 1937.

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Hessman, 37, has played 20 professional seasons, including one year in Japan and a few brief stints in the majors.

The home run, which went far beyond the left-center field wall Monday, was his 16th this season. He has hit 20 home runs or more in a minor league season 13 times.

The crowd at Fifth Third Field gave Hessman a warm ovation as he rounded the bases, and his teammates sprinted to home plate to greet him.

"Yeah, I wasn't expecting that," Hessman said in a radio interview. "It was pretty special."

Hessman, who played 48 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2003 and 2004, was congratulated via Twitter by Chipper Jones, the former Braves All-Star third baseman. Jones included the hashtag #lotsoftaters.

Hessman thanked the fans and the Mud Hens, the triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, for their support and said he was relieved the quest was over.

He also expressed disappointment that Toledo lost to Lehigh Valley, 10-8, in 11 innings.

"My first major league hit was a home run. And then breaking the league record last year — this one tonight is special. It's up there at the top with them," Hessman said.

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