Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo became Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader for Asian-born players on Saturday, passing Hideki Matsui with his 176th career homer in North America.
The 35-year-old South Korean slugger blasted a walk-off homer in the 10th inning to give the Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
The Rangers, who had trailed 3-0 at one stage, took their fourth triumph in five games when Choo tagged Royals reliever Kevin McCarthy, who had retired the previous 15 batters he faced.
With shadows on the field but sunshine still nagging at home plate, Choo smacked a 3-ball, 1-strike offering from McCarthy over the left-field wall to surpass Japanese standout Matsui and engrave his place in major league history.
"It was tough seeing the ball," Choo said in a posting on the team website. "I saw two pitches and couldn't see them all. The ball was really dark and I couldn't see the spin. But it was a 3-1 count so I looked in just one area and swung hard."
Belting a third career game-winning homer to conclude a contest was as important to Choo as the Asian milestone.
"I'm not really worried about it," Choo said. "I care about it, but I've played a long time in the big leagues, played healthy, played hard. Those numbers are coming.
"I'm not really a home run hitter in my career. I never think that way. I always try to stay healthy, try to help the team win the World Series."
Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo said he had a feeling Choo was going to smash the game-winning blow.
"Choo is one of the best hitters I've seen, the way he takes his at-bats every day," Gallo said.
"I went into the dugout and I was like, 'He's going to hit a bomb right here.' You could just feel it with him because his swing has been so good lately. As soon as he hit it, I was like, 'There it is.'"
The Rangers sent a Twitter message to their fans hoping to obtain the historic baseball Choo sent into the stands.
"We have a request," the Rangers tweeted. "Choo's HR, which set a ML record for most career homers by an Asian-born player, landed in the @Royals' bullpen. The ball was then tossed to a lucky fan in the outfield... IN SHORT, Choo would like the ball."
At 22-32, the Rangers are last in the American League West division, 13 games behind pace-setter Houston, the reigning World Series champions.
Choo began his major league career with Seattle in 2005 but in 2006 was traded to Cleveland and spent seven seasons with the Indians before being traded to Cincinnati, where in 2013 he became the first South Korean to homer in a major league playoff game.
Choo signed a free agent deal with the Rangers and joined them for the 2014 campaign.