Hessman Hammers Historic Home Run

It won't be the most memorable home run of the 2007 baseball season or the most historic, but it won't be one that Mud Hens third baseman Mike Hessman will soon forget. On June 1, Hessman delivered his 68th career home run in a Mud Hens uniform donning him the ‘Hens all-time team leader in home runs and capping an impressive weekend of batting feats.

"It was good I didn't think much about the record coming into the seasons but, I don't pay attention to the records, we just try to come in and work hard every day and hopefully we get the win, "Hessman said.

Four days earlier, Hessman was the first ‘Hen to record a hit against Roger Clemens, when he connected on a second inning single in the "Rockets" rehab start with Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Two days after that, on May 30, Hessman cranked a grand slam, his second of the season, to tie the all-time Mud Hen home run record.

That's where the story would normally end. But after belting No. 68, Hessman hasn't slowed, and neither has the clubhouse competition between him and outfielder Ryan Raburn for who can be the most impressive slugger on the team.

"They are putting together some quality at bats. It's really helping out the ball club whichever way they can," Interim Manager Mike Rojas said.

"You know Raburn can hit the home run but he can also steal a base as well. Hessman can hit it out of the ball park and he can play great third base."

In late May the Hessman-Raburn battle was lifted to great heights when the teammates were jockeying to record the first ever cycle in Fifth Third Field history. With a two-run home run in his final at bat, Raburn was able to secure his first career cycle while Hessman was left one single shy of a cycle of his own.

"I only ended up needing a single and in the locker room they ended up giving me a hard time because I missed a single, the easiest one to get, Hessman said.

A home run, triple and a double, isn't a bad night for any player, and there haven't been very many bad nights for Hessman this season.

For the ninth time in his career, Hessman has managed over 20 home runs, he is the league leader in RBI (81), home runs (25), and extra base hits (47) and his .592 slugging percentage is good enough for second in the league and first on the team.

Although Hessman's stats are good enough for the league lead in many categories, they are barely ahead of Raburn's which also appear a top many of the IL's stats lists. Raburn is first in the league in runs scored (58), second in RBI (62), third in home runs (16), third in extra base hits (40) second in slugging percentage (.545) and first on the team with 50 walks.

Five of those walks came in one game, just one day after Raburn recorded the cycle.

"Raburn wasn't over anxious, you know most guys who get 3-4 walks want to get the hit but he was very patient, that's what he needs to do, if it's not in the zone lay off, Rojas said."

"We can go on with everyone in the ball club it's just been some good accomplishments, with Hessman breaking the home run record for the Mud Hens, and almost making history with the cycle, and nearly having two guys having a cycle in one game," Rojas said.

About a week after Raburn bested Hessman in the cycle competition the two were back at it in a late game rally against Syracuse. One batter after Raburn drilled a solo home run to left field, Hessman drilled a two run home run even deeper to left field.

After I hit the home run, I went back to the dugout and started hassling Mike and told him he had to hit a one too," Raburn said after the 9-2 win over the Chiefs.

Despite their constant competitive banter, the batting rivalry between the powerful third baseman and tiny outfielder is all in good fun.

Asked who has had a better season in the batter's box, Hessman offered a modest response.

"Raburn is on fire. That little guy can hit."

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