Mike Hessman, of the Toledo Mud Hens Minor League Triple A farm team of the Detroit Tigers, hit his 433rd home run this week. He is now the all time Minor League home run king of baseball. He is the Henry Aaron of the Minors. This is sort of like being the King of Liechtenstein or the greatest bubble gum blower in history.
I love the Hessman record because it is life mimicking fiction in my all-time favorite sports movie Bull Durham. Hessman is Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s journeyman catcher who imparted his hard won wisdom to ‘Nuke’ La Loosh, Tim Robbins wonderful young pitcher.
Hessman has had a “cup of coffee” with a few Major League teams during his long odyssey in baseball, but now he is the beloved 37-year-old slugger of Corporal Klinger’s (M*A*S*H) home team, the Toledo Mud Hens.
Hessman loves to play the game and relishes his role as the Babe Ruth of the International League. Kids come and go in the Minors, but a guy like Hessman reminds me of the great setup man in a job shop or the maintenance person who stays 30 years at a company holding things together, while the young hot shots float from job to job searching for 50 cents more per hour.
Evidently the Detroit Tigers see something valuable in having a Mike Hessman on the Toledo roster. He could be considered the consummate 4A player, with AAA the top level of Minor League ball. Smart teams like to have a few 4A players around to demonstrate professionalism to the prospects and add stability to constantly shifting player rosters.
Bull Durham is my favorite sports movie, but there have been a lot of really good ones like Major League and other Costner epics, For the Love of the Game, and Tin Cup.
Question: Do you think Hessman should have retired long ago?
Kudos, to the folks who posted on my Monday blog about first summer jobs. I loved every one of them and I recommend them to those who missed any of them. We underestimate the value of those early work experiences, but they shape us as men and women and productive workers. One of the many awful things about living in the big city black ghettos is lack of exposure to viable work opportunities. Missing the opportunity to do something productive out of school is part of a long slog into futility. I’d love to hear your story..