Wladimir Balentien breaks Japanese single-season HR record

Chung Sung-Jun

The previous record of 55 home runs in a season has stood for nearly 50 years, but former Major Leaguer Wladimir Balentien snapped that with his 56th and 57th homers on Sunday.

Yakult Sparrows outfielder Wladimir Balentien has broken the Japan Central League record for home runs in a season, slugging his 56th and 57th homers of 2013 on Sunday.

Balentien went into Sunday's game tied for the record with 55 home runs. Balentien had been hitting .336/.461/.801 over 112 games with the Sparrows.

Here is the video of the record-breaking home run (hat tip to CBSSports.com)

The previous record of 55 home runs in a season was shared by three men. Sadaharu Oh was the first to hit 55 homers when he did so in 1964. That record stood for nearly 40 years before Tuffy Rhodes tied him in 2001. The very next year, Alex Cabrera also hit 55 home runs. The latter two had played in the MLB before moving to Japan.

Balentien began his professional career with the Seattle Mariners, playing parts of three seasons with the team before a mid-season trade saw him shipped to Cincinnati in 2009. He played for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in 2010, but left for Japan after that season.

The Sparrows came to a new three-year contract with Balentien in the offseason, meaning he will not be eligible to return to the MLB until 2016 at the earliest, should a team show interest.

In his first two seasons with the Sparrows, Balentien hit a total of 62 home runs. He has a chance to match that in 2013 alone with 17 games left in the Sparrows' schedule.

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