Wladimir Balentien hit his 56th and 57th home runs of the season to break Japan’s 49-year-old record for most home runs hit in a single season.
The previous record of 55 home runs was reached by three players, most notably Sadaharu Oh, who did it in 1964. Oh would go on to hit 868 home runs in his career, the most by a professional baseball player in any league. Balentien hit 15 home runs in 170 games in Major League Baseball. He last played in the U.S. in 2009 with the Reds.
That Balentien broke the record was a significant step forward for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. In the past, when players, especially non-Japanese players, approached Oh’s record, opposing pitchers would either intentionally walk the hitter or not throw any hittable pitches. The feeling was that Oh’s record was sacred and nobody wanted to see it broken.
But you can tell by the reaction of the crowd in the video below that Japanese fans truly embraced Balentien and his quest to break the record (via CBSSports.com)…
And here is another video that shows more of the crowd including the anticipation and the reaction to the moment…
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