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Minor League home run king Hessman retires

Mike Hessman, the all-time Minor League home run leader, has decided to retire after a 19-year career.

Hessman, who spent the last two years in the Tigers' organization, belted a record 433 homers at the Minor League level. The 37-year-old also hit 14 homers in 109 big league games over parts of five seasons with the Braves, Tigers and Mets. He last appeared in the Majors in 2010, when he clubbed one homer in 55 at-bats with the Mets.

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Hessman surpassed Buzz Arlett's mark of 432 homers on Aug. 3, when he went yard against Lehigh Valley's Dustin McGowan. That homer, the 433rd of Hessman's career, ultimately proved to be the final one in a professional career that dates to 1996.

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A 15th-round pick by the Braves in the 1996 MLB Draft, Hessman hit just one home run over 53 games with Atlanta's Rookie level affiliate. He then reached the 20-homer plateau in each of the next three seasons at various levels of Class A ball -- and five of the next six, including stints at Double-A and Triple-A.

Hessman made his Major League debut on Aug. 22, 2003, with the Braves. He needed only two games to record his first Major League homer, taking former All-Star pitcher Mike Stanton deep in only his second MLB at-bat. Hessman ultimately homered twice in his first four games, though he wouldn't hit another in the big leagues until the following season.

Hessman's most prolific season came in 2012 when he slugged 35 homers for Triple-A Oklahoma City after spending the '11 campaign playing in Japan. That was one of three 30-homer seasons for Hessman, who also hit 31 in 2007 and 34 in '08.

Paul Casella is a reporter for