Japan Professsional Baseball: Balentien sets new single-season home run record: September 15, 2013: Wladimir Balentien of the Yakult Swallows set a new single-season home run record for Japan Professional Baseball, hitting #56 in the first inning off Hanshin pitcher Daiki Enokida for a two-run shot, and then extending his own record with #57, a solo shot (also off Enokida), in the third inning. The former record of 55 had been set by world homerun champion Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants in 1964 and then equalled by Tuffy Rhodes (Kintetsu Buffaloes) in 2001 and Alex Cabrera (Seibu Lions) in 2002.
Since the end of the 1985 season, when the record was first seriously challenged by Randy Bass (Hanshin Tigers), Oh's mark has sometimes been labelled the phoniest record in professional baseball because of the extent to which Japanese pitcher and coaches had gone to prevent foreign players in particular from surpassing it. Unlike Bass, Rhodes and Cabrera, Balentien's chase has not been frustrated by a similar chain of intentional walks as he has closed in on 55. Further, his accomplishment comes with 19 games still remaining on Yakult's schedule, so it will be interesting to see how far he can extend the new record.