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(LEAD) Veteran KBO slugger hits milestone home run

Sports 21:32 August 11, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES top photo; ADDS 2nd, 3rd photos, stats at bottom)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- Kiwoom Heroes' slugger Park Byung-ho blasted a milestone home run on Tuesday, becoming only the second player in South Korean baseball history with seven straight 20-homer seasons.

Park smacked a two-run homer off Warwick Saupold of the Hanwha Eagles in a Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. The opposite field shot at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul was Park's 20th of the season.

Park Byung-ho of the Kiwoom Heroes watches the flight of his two-run home run against the Hanwha Eagles during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Aug. 11, 2020, in this photo provided by the Heroes. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

With that, Park joined the retired slugger Lee Seung-yuop as the only players to go deep at least 20 times in seven seasons in a row.

Lee, the career leader with 464 home runs, had 20 or more for the Samsung Lions from 1997 to 2003, before taking his talent to Japan. He returned to the KBO in 2012 and hit 21 homers.

Park began his streak in 2012, when he had 31 home runs. It ran until 2015, after which he signed with the Minnesota Twins. Park rejoined the Heroes before the 2018 season, and went on to hammer out 43 and 33 home runs in each of the next two seasons.

Park Byung-ho of the Kiwoom Heroes (R) rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Hanwha Eagles during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Aug. 11, 2020, in this photo provided by the Heroes. The scoreboard in the background flashes the note that Park is the second player in league history with seven straight 20-homer seasons. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Tuesday was Park's 79th game of the season and the Heroes' 82nd. With 62 games remaining, Park is well on his way to his seventh consecutive 30-homer season, too.

Lee is the only other player with a streak as long.

Aside from home runs and RBIs, Park is in the midst of his least productive season. He entered Tuesday's game batting just .230, the lowest among 57 qualified batters this year. Since joining the Heroes in a trade from the LG Twins in 2011, Park hasn't batted below .290 in a full season.

Park also lead all hitters with 99 strikeouts prior to Tuesday's game. His career high is 161 strikeouts in 140 games in 2015, but he also pounded out 53 home runs with a .343/.436/.714 line.

Park Byung-ho of the Kiwoom Heroes (R) is greeted by his coaches and teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the Hanwha Eagles during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Aug. 11, 2020, in this photo provided by the Heroes. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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