Hessman becomes eighth minor leaguer to hit 400 career home runs

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens became the eighth professional minor leaguer to hit 400 career home runs when he hit a two-run blast to left field off Rochester’s Scott Diamond in the first inning of a game at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York.

According to MiLB.com’s Sam Dykstra, Hessman’s homer was his 255th in International League play, three shy of Ollie Carnegie for the all-time league record. He has hit 151 of his homers with the Mud Hens, a club record.

The 36-year-old Hessman joined this list of players in the 400 club, according to Going for the Fences: The Minor League Home Run Book, by the late Bob McConnell, one of SABR’s 16 founding members:

  1. Hector Espino, 484
  2. Nelson Barrera, 479
  3. Andres Mora, 444
  4. Alejandro (Alex) Ortiz, 434
  5. Buzz Arlett, 432
  6. Nick Cullop, 420
  7. Merv Connors, 400
  8. Mike Hessman, 400

Espino (453 of 484), Barrera (455 of 479), Mora (419 of 444), and Ortiz (434) hit most of their home runs in the Mexican League, while the others played in U.S.-based professional leagues. The Mexican League joined Organized Baseball in 1955.

Espino became the career minor league home run leader during the 1977 season, surpassing Arlett, a Pacific Coast League legend who held the title for 44 years.

It’s rare that a player stays in the minor leagues long enough to hit 400 career home runs. Hessman began his professional career in 1996, when he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 15th round of the amateur draft. He reached the major leagues in 2003, and hit .188 with 14 home runs in 109 games over parts of five seasons with the Braves, Tigers and Mets. You can view his career statistics in the SABR Minor League Database, which has been licensed to Baseball-Reference.com.

For more information on SABR’s Minor League Statistics Project or to get involved, contact Frank Hamilton.

Originally published: May 22, 2014. Last Updated: May 22, 2014.