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Home run king Hessman elected to IL Hall of Fame

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    Former Mud Hen Mike Hessman waves to the Fifth Third Field crowd in 2015 as he receives a standing ovation for breaking the record for most home runs in the minor leagues.

    BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

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    Mike Hessman holds his daughter Madalyn, then 5, as he and wife Sabrina wave to fans during a ceremony in his honor in 2015.

    BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

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    Toledo Mud Hens third baseman Mike Hessman dives to stop a ground ball. During his playing days, Hessman was considered one of the top defensive third baseman in the International League.

    BLADE/LORI KING

  • Mud-Hens-notch-third-West-Division-title-2

    The Mud Hens Mike Hessman, right, and Chris Shelton celebrate after Toledo put the finishing touches on a third consecutive International League West Division title in 2007.

  • Amazing-experience-Mud-Hens-Hessman-Neal-savored-Olympics

    Mud Hens pitcher Blaine Neal, left, and third baseman Mike Hessman wear the bronze medals they picked up in Beijing, China, as members of the U.S. Olympic baseball team in 2008.

    Blade/Andy Morrison

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    Toledo Mud Hens fans hold signs in honor of Mike Hessman, who was nicknamed "The King" for his pursuit of minor-league home run records.

    Blade/Andy Morrison

  • Hessman-delivers-in-7th-for-Tigers

    Mike Hessman is shown hitting a two-run single for the Tigers in the seventh inning of a July 2007 contest. Hessman's hit, which came just hours after earning a promotion from Toledo, helped Detroit to a 9-6 win over the White Sox. That season Hessman was voted International League MVP.

“The King” is now a member of the Hall of Fame.

Longtime Toledo Mud Hens third baseman Mike Hessman, whose nickname was “The King” as he set a record for most home runs in affiliated minor-league baseball, was elected to the International League Hall of Fame, the league announced Tuesday.

Hessman and Columbus president and general manager Ken Schnacke, who has spent 42 years with the Clippers, were selected for enshrinement in a vote of the league’s living hall of famers as well as executives, broadcasters, and media.

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Former Mud Hen Mike Hessman waves to the Fifth Third Field crowd in 2015 as he receives a standing ovation for breaking the record for most home runs in the minor leagues.

BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge

Hessman spent seven seasons with the Mud Hens, playing with the team from 2005-09 before returning for the 2014-15 seasons. During that time, he played on Toledo teams that won back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles in 2005-06 and also made the IL playoffs in 2007.

He was named International League MVP in 2007, when he led the league with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. Hessman also was a postseason IL all-star that season as well as in 2008 and 2014, and also played in the midseason Triple-A All-Star Game in 2007-08 and in 2012 with Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League. He also was selected to play in the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game but did not participate because of injuries.

But Hessman was best-known for hitting home runs. His biggest came with the Mud Hens late in the 2015 season, when his grand slam against Lehigh Valley gave him a record 433 homers in the affiliated minors, surpassing IL Hall of Famer Buzz Arlett.

Hessman, who also played in the IL with Richmond — which since has moved to Gwinnett — from 2002-04, Buffalo in 2010, and Louisville in 2013, also holds the IL record with 288 home runs and is Toledo’s career record holder with 184, almost triple the next-highest total.

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Toledo Mud Hens fans hold signs in honor of Mike Hessman, who was nicknamed "The King" for his pursuit of minor-league home run records.

Blade/Andy Morrison Enlarge

RELATED CONTENT: Hessman once foiled the strategy of making him the “strikeout player” at a Mud Hens game ■ Blade columnist David Briggs’ Mud Hens ‘Dream Team’

He also is Toledo’s all-time leader with 494 RBIs and ranks as the modern era — since the Hens joined the IL in 1965 — leader in games played (821), hits (674), runs scored (436), and doubles (147).

Hessman spent parts of five different seasons in the majors, playing in a total of 109 big-league games split between Atlanta (2003-04), Detroit (2007-08), and the New York Mets (2010). He hit four homers in 17 games with the Tigers in 2007 and five more the next year on the way to finishing with 14 homers in his career.

After retiring following the 2015 season, Hessman has served as a coach in the Tigers’ minor-league system. This year, he is set to serve as the hitting coach for Detroit’s Double-A team in Erie.

This marks the second year in a row and the fourth time in six seasons the Mud Hens have had ties to an individual elected to the IL Hall of Fame. Last season, former Toledo reliever Lee Gardner was chosen; in 2014, the IL honored longtime Hens broadcaster Jim Weber; and in 2013, former manager Larry Parrish was selected.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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