Mike Hessman Sets U.S. Minor League Home Run Record
Mike Hessman hit his 433rd U.S. minor league home run on August 3, 2015 moving him past Buzz Arlett into first place all-time for home runs hit in the regular season U.S. minor leagues. Including the majors and Japan’s NPB, Mike Hessman has now hit 453 summer time professional home runs, also topping Arlett’s 450.
It’s an amazing accomplishment, and one I don’t expect we will see broken again in our lifetimes. Arlett’s record has stood for 79 years, and it’s hard to imagine another U.S. professional baseball player last so long in the minors and playing at a level high enough to keep his AAA job, but not spend significant time in the majors.
Hessman’s level of play was ideal for his accomplishment. He didn’t hit for much of an average and he struck out too much even at AAA, but his power kept him around for years. He probably deserved more major league playing time, but he developed late, didn’t get many real major league opportunities and didn’t get hot often enough when he did. He last played in the majors in 2010.
Hessman is now 37 years old, and I expect that 2015 will be his last season in the MLB system. He’s currently hitting .217 and his OPS is .764. It’s hard to imagine him sticking around another season at AAA with those numbers.
Hessman still trails Mexican League sluggers Hector Espino (484 HR) and Andres Mora (444 HR) as the North American minor league home run kings. Mora also hit 27 major league HRs. Hessman could play in Mexico or the Independent-A Atlantic League next year if he wants to continue playing baseball after the MLB system finally puts him out to pasture. More likely, however, he will go into coaching when he is released by the Tigers organization for whom he is currently playing. It would be nice to see the Tigers give Hessman one last September call-up in recognition of his contributions to professional baseball.