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(LEAD) Kiwoom Heroes' Park Byung-ho hits 300th career KBO home run

Sports 20:36 July 05, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with final result in para 3)

SUWON, South Korea, July 5 (Yonhap) -- Kiwoom Heroes' slugger Park Byung-ho blasted his 300th career home run in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Sunday.

Park became the 14th player, and fifth active hitter, to reach that milestone with a two-run home run off KT Wiz starter Kim Min-su in the top of the fifth inning at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul.

Park turned on a 2-2 curveball and sent it over the center field wall, cutting the deficit to 7-3. It wasn't nearly enough, as the Heroes ended up losing 10-5. Park went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the game.

The ball left Park's bat at 35.4 degrees with an exit velocity of 167.2 kilometers per hour (103.9 miles per hour), and traveled 120.9 meters (396.7 feet). It was Park's 14th long ball of the season in his 51st game.

Park, who turns 34 on Friday, is working toward his seventh consecutive 30-homer season. Only Lee Seung-yuop, the all-time leader with 467, has strung together as many 30-homer seasons in a row.

In this file photo, from June 23, 2020, Park Byung-ho of the Kiwoom Heroes hits a solo home run against the LG Twins in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

A late bloomer who didn't become an everyday player until a trade from the LG Twins to the Heroes in 2011, Park won his first home run crown in 2012 in his age-26 season. He also captured the first of his two consecutive MVP awards in 2012.

He led the league in the long-ball department every year from 2012 to 2015, including the back-to-back 50-homer campaign in 2014 and 2015. With 52 in 2014 and 53 the following season, Park became the first KBO player to reach the half-century mark in home runs in two straight seasons. No one has matched the feat since.

Park signed with the Minnesota Twins before the 2016 season and spent two seasons in the U.S. He returned to the Heroes for the 2018 season and promptly hit 43 homers, finishing second in the KBO.

Last year, he earned his fifth career home run title with 33. He entered Sunday's game in fifth place in that category, with Mel Rojas Jr. of the Wiz leading the way with 19 home runs.

Choi Jeong of the SK Wyverns is the active leader with 346, including one Sunday. He's five away from tying the No. 2 overall, Yang Joon-hyuk.

Park is now tied at 300 with Park Jae-hong. Up ahead, three players are tied at 311 apiece, including two active players in Hanwha Eagles' Kim Tae-kyun and Kia Tigers' Choi Hyoung-woo.

Park Byung-ho of the Kiwoom Heroes returns to the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Doosan Bears in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on July 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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