Pomrenke: Three forgotten minor-league home run kings

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on November 27, 2015:

Recently, I wrote about the “three kings” of minor league home runs—Mike Hessman, Buzz Arlett, and Héctor Espino—whose career records were set under such different circumstances that they each hold a legitimate claim to the throne.

Hessman, the 37-year-old first baseman for the Toledo Mud Hens, was celebrated throughout the baseball world in August 2015 when he hit his 433rd career minor league home run to surpass Arlett, who hit most of his 432 homers in the independent Pacific Coast League of the 1920s and ’30s.

Hessman’s accomplishment is one we’ll likely never see again, given the modern system of affiliated minor league teams that is designed solely to help the best prospects reach the Majors. It’s rare to see players spend enough time in the minors to reach 300 or 400 home runs, except in the nonaffiliated Mexican League, where Espino hit 453 of his 484 minor league homers. That still stands as the record for all minor leaguers.

But there was a time when the minor leagues were home to a number of talented home run champions whose names are nearly forgotten today. These players didn’t necessarily excel in the minors because they weren’t good enough to reach the Majors—some, like Arlett, did quite well when they made it to the big leagues—but because the minor leagues were just another way to make a living playing baseball in those days. Here are some of their stories.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/three-more-minor-league-home-run-kings

Originally published: December 4, 2015. Last Updated: December 4, 2015.