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Javy holds catchers' HR mark
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09/27/2003  2:06 PM ET 
Javy holds catchers' HR mark
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    ATLANTA -- Javy Lopez's dream season now has a fitting record finish.

    When he drilled a 2-2, one-out homer off Amaury Telemaco in the second inning of Saturday's game at Veterans Stadium, Lopez broke Todd Hundley's Major League record for homers hit by a catcher in one season.

    "It's just been a great season for me," Lopez said. "I just want this to continue wherever I am next year."

    Lopez, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has hit a career-best 43 homers this year, with one coming in a pinch-hit role. Hundley set the record with 41 homers in 1996 for the Mets.

    The only home runs that are counted are when the player is in the lineup as a catcher. Thus because Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench played a number of positions when he hit 45 homers in 1970, he is not credited with the record.

    "I missed my calling," Braves manager Bobby Cox jokingly said after praising Lopez. "I'd have had that record by now if I'd have been a catcher."

    Lopez, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, can only rejoice in the fact that he has been able to accomplish this one year after hitting .233 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs.

    "It's awesome," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "He's had a great year. This is a perfect way to cap off a good regular season and get ready to have a good postseason."

    Entering Saturday, Lopez remained six plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league-lead statistics. If he qualified, his at-bat per homer ratio would of 10.8 would rank second only to San Francisco's Barry Bonds.

    After setting the record, Lopez was removed from the game to rest for the postseason. The Braves are scheduled to open Division Series play on Tuesday in Atlanta against the Cubs.

    Lopez should enjoy opening the playoffs at home. He has batted .376 with 26 homers and posted a .834 slugging percentage at Turner Field this year. Last year, the veteran backstop hit just one of his home runs in Atlanta.

    "He's hit big home runs and provided big RBIs for us all year long," Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "He's really been incredible."

    Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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